Alex McRae

Hard to swallow

by Alex McRae

I’ve never climbed a mountain, run with the bulls or French kissed a Rottweiler. That doesn’t mean I’m not brave, adventurous and bold.

For instance, when I take a seat at the table, I don’t back away from anyone - or any food.

Just call me the Daring Diner. I rarely have second thoughts about second helpings of anything. I figure one bite can’t hurt. 

I’ve been right except for the time some buddies and I netted a mess of buffalo fish in a south Alabama creek and cooked them up right there on the bank. My lower bowel still shudders at the memory.

I’ve even eaten boiled chitlins. (Yes, alcohol was involved).

I abandoned the booze a few years back and, frankly, haven’t missed it. But sober, I’m not sure I could sample what the United Nations calls the food trend of the future.

The UN food police claim this adventure in fine dining is the perfect recipe for fighting world hunger. I’d have more faith in that promise if I hadn’t already witnessed the UN’s “success” at fighting dictators and saving whales.

They are convinced this latest program will be a bigger hit than “Blue Suede Shoes.” All they have to do is convince the rest of us that the long-term key to human survival is … eating insects.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization just released a (supposedly non-fiction) report claiming that grasshoppers, beetles and their buddies are “underutilized” as a food source.

“Underutilized?” These people are worried that humans don’t eat enough bugs? That kind of news makes me want to holler “Thank you, Jesus!” But I digress.

An agency official told the Associated Press, “Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly… and leave a low environmental footprint. They provide high-quality protein and nutrients when compared with meat and fish and are particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children.”

Since most “first world” supermarkets don’t feature an insect aisle, bold new steps must be taken to raise enough bugs to feed the world. Experts say it’s just a matter of ramping up the insect “farming” practices already used by the fish bait industry. 

Well, sure. If the family is out of fresh crickets when unexpected guests drop in, mom can dash to the bait shop and snag some more.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no moral objection to eating insects and have swallowed my share, but usually by accident at scout cookouts and outdoor wedding receptions. 

And in the interest of full disclosure I admit eating (a few) chocolate-covered ants and grasshoppers. I have even watched Food Network stars snack on raw roaches without gagging. But I’m not ready for a steady diet of praying mantis meat and caterpillar fritters.

The good news is, everyone agrees that obesity will soon be a bigger problem than starvation. So it could be years before humans start fighting over the last locust in Farmer Brown’s field.

But then, I’m no expert. And I’m man enough to admit that a recent news item provides possible evidence that eating insects could - could - have a positive impact on public safety.

The AP reported that a Boston woman was busted for punching a restaurant worker who allegedly put too many pickles on her steak and cheese sandwich. To my knowledge, no one has ever been assaulted for serving too many cicadas.

But bug burgers? Not me. Not yet. I’m an adventurous eater but you won’t catch me pouring ketchup on something I used to spray with Raid.

(Send your email comments to alexmmcrae@gmail.com.)




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