Move Over Beer Nuts, this Earth Friendly Snack Trend has Legs…

May 8, 2017

Seattle Beer drinkers are known for liking their beer bold and hoppy.
Now there’s a snack to match – and it might be the start of a new trend in earth friendly protein.

ESPN:

After surprisingly selling out of grasshoppers at a concession stand for the first three games of the season, the Seattle Mariners have called in an emergency order so that they last throughout this weekend. The team is also imposing a per-game order limit for the rest of the season.

Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale told ESPN that the team sold 901 orders of the insects over the first three home games. The grasshoppers are toasted in a chili lime salt and come in a four-ounce cup for $4.

“We’ve sold roughly 18,000 grasshoppers,” Hale said. “That’s more than the restaurant [that runs the stand], Poquitos, sells in a year.”

Sports Illustrated:

For the low low price of $4, you can grab yourself a big cup of grasshoppers tossed in chili lime salt—a Mexican culinary tradition and staple—at any Mariners home game this year. “They are a one-of-a-kind snack that the fans will really love—either on a taco or on their own,” Steve Dominguez, Centerplate general manager at Safeco Field, told ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “One of a kind” is being generous; it’s safe to say that most MLB and minor league teams probably aren’t venturing into the edible insect space (though it would be a good way for Cleveland to reduce its midge population).

But for as gross as it may seem to settle into a seat at Safeco Field cradling a bowl of warm Schistocerca americana, it’s worth noting that grasshoppers offer benefits that your average ballpark concession item doesn’t. For one, grasshoppers (and most insects) are loaded with protein and low on fat. They’re also a very environmentally friendly animal to raise for food, given that they don’t require any of the infrastructure that livestock do.

Beyond that, though, kudos to the Mariners for going in a different direction than the rest of baseball. Where most teams are content to slather a gallon of barbecue sauce on an unholy marriage of sugar and beef and label it as “the most wild food you’ve ever had,” Seattle has something uniquely out there. Too much ballpark food nowadays is just some lazy and visually upsetting arrangement of meat and bread, usually in portions that could feed an elementary school class for a week. So here’s something actually inspired: Bugs, toasted and salted, for an affordable price and not in a quantity that would make you question the direction that your life has gone.

So if you’re at a Mariners game this year, pass on the two-foot-long Cheesesteak from Hell and grab yourself some grasshopper. Your heart and stomach will probably thank you.

Axios:

If half the meat eaten worldwide was replaced by insects (think: crickets and mealworms), greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced and farmland use would be cut by one-third, a new study shows. It’s a radical new solution for tackling livestock effects on the environment, but the idea of eating insects for sustainability has been thrown around for years.

The study: Researchers at the University of Edinburgh compared how conventional meat production from cattle and chicken compared to the process of cultivating alternative meat sources, like insects, lab-grown meat and tofu. They found insects and tofu are the most sustainable and environmentally friendly options because they take up the least amount of land and require the least amount of energy to process.

Why it matters: In the US, insects are typically eaten for the “fear factor” or shock value, rather than their nutritional value. Continued research into the benefits of eating insects could change that, help the environment, and provide high-protein, sustainable alternatives to meat. After all, insects are common meals in other countries.

What’s next: The researchers considered the effects of replacing half of the animal products, like beef and chicken, would be replaced with insects. They estimated that would free up 1680 million hectares of land, which is equivalent to 70 times the size of the UK.

The stats: It’s been estimated that cattle can account for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production. And there are other effects of livestock production: Pasture covers twice the area of cropland around the world, and livestock consume around one-third of all harvested crops, per the study.

The solution: “A mix of small changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would help achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system,” said Dr. Peter Alexander, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences and Scotland’s Rural College.

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14 Responses to “Move Over Beer Nuts, this Earth Friendly Snack Trend has Legs…”

  1. vierotchka Says:

    Locusts are almost identical to grasshoppers. In the Bible (Now John himself wore clothing. made of camel’s hair, with a. leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
    — Matthew 3:4) as well as in the history of ancient Christian monks who would retire to the desert, locusts and wild honey was the mainstay of their meals. Now, I have often thought that if one could devise a way of catching millions and millions of locusts when they swarm and then land to eat up all the vegetation, one would have a vast supply of protein while also sparing crops from these swarms.

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    A fantastic opportunity to practice masochism while you lower your expectations about life!

    Learning to love eating disgusting insects is just the thing to crush your feelings of self-worth, and to help you prepare for a future with a reduced quality of life. Commiserate with your fellow workers over a scrumptious bowl of fried cockroaches during your five minute lunch break!

    Talk about life in a micro-house (as if you could afford a house!) as the epitome of what you want out of life. Learn to accept and then love a life with all the benefits of AGW, pollution, exploitation by the 1% and more!!

    And remember – every meal of insects or mud puppies, or rotting humous; even a “stew” made from dirt and sticks – is another serving of Steak Diane the rich people can enjoy. Which is how you are going to measure your happiness in life in future.

    • vierotchka Says:

      It’s a cultural thing. To us, grubs and insects seem disgusting, to others they are delicious and to them much of what we eat seems disgusting. I am told that roasted termites taste of peanuts, for example.

      An excerpt:

      “On the whole, insects tend to taste a bit nutty, especially when roasted. I believe this comes from the natural fats they contain, combined with the crunchiness of their mineral-rich exoskeletons. Crickets, for instance, taste like nutty shrimp, whereas most larvae I’ve tried have a nutty mushroom flavor. My two favorites, wax moth caterpillars (AKA “wax worms”) and bee larvae, taste like enoki-pine nut and bacon-chanterelle, respectively.”

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniella-martin/what-do-bugs-taste-like-a_b_901775.html

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    “The stats: It’s been estimated that cattle can account for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production. “

    In the developing world(!) That’s what the linked source says. The other link offers no source.

    => Notice the propaganda here, folks <= Bet you thought they meant everywhere, not the developing world?

    And, btw, we don't have a food production problem in the world. We have a food distribution problem. What the heck does the scientist want to do with "freed up" hectares?

    Getting really sick of this s**t, which is nothing more than a distraction. As I said a couple of days ago:

    "The problem we have is greenhouse gases. From fossil fuels being burned."

    • funslinger62 Says:

      Gingerbaker continues her fantasy about what does and doesn’t contribute to AGW. It’s the evil old FF companies that are solely to blame. No reason for her to change her lifestyle.


  4. oh, yummy…

    NOT. going to go throw up now.

  5. stephengn1 Says:

    We’ve been eating crawfish, crabs, shrimp and oysters every which way for centuries. I know, not the same. Not that far off either. I’d try it.

    However, what we are really talking about here is simply protein production. With that in mind, considering the current trajectory of food technology and the enormously wasteful methods we now produce it, meat is primed for technological disruption every bit as much as land lines (cell phones) and Taxis (Lyft) etc.

    Silicon Valley has notice this and alternative food production start ups are beginning to get venture-capital dollars like never before. I’ve been semi-following Bruce Friedrich at Yale about this. Here’s an interesting talk about how meat is about to be disrupted.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      ” enormously wasteful methods we now produce it, meat …”

      What enormously wasteful means??

      This is the whole point: meat production is NOT enormously wasteful, and the idea that it is “enormously wasteful” is badly-supported propaganda.

      Stop reinforcing this false meme!

      • stephengn1 Says:

        by wasteful I mean we put more calories into the producing of a product, than usable calories we get out of the finished product
        As far as I can see that’s just mathematics, not propaganda.

        Do you have a link you could point me to that explains your point of view a little better?

        As I said,I found the explanation five Bruce Friedrich of Yale in the video I linked above to be interesting .

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          I haven’t seen the Friedrich video yet, but I have it saved to watch later. 🙂

          As for “wasteful” = “we put more calories into the producing of a product, than usable calories we get out of the finished product”:

          I don’t see how that a particularly useful metric. Most of the calories that go into our food come from the sun. If you want to talk about fossil fuel calories, then the majority of those in the food sector go to growing vegetables, not meat!

          Virtually every single manufactured product in the world uses more calories than it produces simply by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Therefore, is this a useful metric? Especially since in the near future, (hopefully!), our energy use is going to be coming from sun and wind, which means it is limitless, free, and carbon-free.

          In the grand scale of energy use, livestock’s true incremental shadow is a tiny portion. There is nothing “enormously” wasteful about it.

          Livestock gives us very useful ->food <-, which we all need to eat. And not just meat, but milk, cheese, eggs,, etc. And livestock gives us not just food, but leather, fur, feathers and 100+ other byproducts most of us know little about which society needs, and would otherwise have to synthesize, which would no doubt entail more calories being generated.

          From Richard Carrier's "Meat Not Bad" [http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/804]:

          "So the argument then shifts to why we waste all that grain, when we could just eat it. Well, first of all, we are converting that grain into more than just meat. When we compare “per ton of product” between cattle and grain, for instance, we’re not talking about just food; and not every item that comes off a cow has the same value or importance. Per ton of fertilizer cows produce? Per ton of bone meal cows produce? Per ton of tallow cows produce? Per ton of leather cows produce? Are these things the same value or even equatable to the food that cows produce, including meat, fat, milk, cheese, whey, and yoghurt? Secondly, most of the grain we feed cows (and other farmed animals), people couldn’t eat. It’s called roughage, a waste product. Over 80% of what even factory farmed animals eat is actually recycled waste product from the production of grain humans are already eating. Whenever you see stats like “22% of [U.S. grown wheat] is used for animal feed and residuals,” that word residuals means agrowaste fed to livestock–so this is not “22% of human edible wheat product” that’s going to animals, but 22% of the wheat product sold, whether humans could eat it or not. In fact most stats you’ll see for tonnage of crops parceled by use don’t distinguish residuals from edible quantity, thus badly skewing what a naive reader might think such numbers mean. Animal farming is not taking grain away from people, but making the grain people eat more efficient, by converting its waste product into more food. And hundreds of other products besides food.

          Now, in order to recycle that waste, we do have to supplement it with some quality product as well. In effect some human edible grain must be “burned” to convert grain production waste into food (and corn is worldwide the most popular supplement used), so animal farming does “consume” grains that humans could have eaten instead, but by doing so it creates more food, and many other products. In other words, we are burning a little bit of grain to run these waste recycling-plants we call animals–just as we have to burn resources to recycle plastic, metal, or paper. When you do all the math for industrial cattle farming, for example, feed conversion efficiency for non-roughage grain input is better than 4:1 (4 kg non-waste input for every 1 kg usable output), which is not bad considering what you get for it (which is again, a lot more than just food–it’s also all those other animal products that grease our economy, literally and figuratively). For industrial dairy farming this efficiency is actually 1:4, i.e. we get 4 kgs of usable product for every 1 kg of usable product we put in. Which makes industrial dairy farming one of the smartest things we ever thought of (so it’s too bad I can’t digest dairy, but even I benefit from this industry, as dairy products are in things even I and many vegetarians eat, like bread). The numbers come out a little different if you compare food energy input and output (for dairy it’s close to 1:1; yet for beef it’s 1:0.65, which is better than 2:1, either way at near parity), but that’s not a wholly apt comparison because energy is not all you get out of food (you also get a whole array of nutrients) and food isn’t all you get out of animals. On balance, we do not appear to be wasting very much food on livestock. It looks like any other efficient system of manufacturing, into which we pour a selection of resources and out of which we get hundreds of usable products of comparable value."

          The fact is that most of the calories that go into beef are from grass.

          Perhaps methane is a concern? Guess what – if we were to remove all animal livestock tomorrow from the face of the earth, we would still see methane production from decaying grains and grasses. And other animals, like bison. At least livestock gives us meat back for that. Besides, most natural methane production is from wetlands and tundras.

          So, when we add it all up – the TRUE accounting of the bad vs the good, meat production is not a villain. And the whole issue is a deliberate misdirection from what is – burning fossil fuels.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            Well if you haven’t watched that video yet, watch it. His presentation lays out these arguments much better than I could on a comment board and he makes a lot of sense

      • funslinger62 Says:

        Gingerbaker still living in her fantasy world.

  6. Daniel Fox Says:

    While we were in New Orleans we stopped at the Insectarium there which does a program on cooking with insects. I tried most of the dishes and did not find them objectionable. I’ve also tried toasted crickets when in Mexico, but didn’t much care for them. The only real objection I have to insects as food is that they are actually more pricey than other forms of protein.


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