|Chocolate Covered Insects (in this case - Ants!)|
October 14 is national "Eat Chocolate Covered Insects Day" day! Okay so it's not a new food per say, but I'm willing to bet most Americans have never (intentionally) eaten an insect, let alone one dipped in chocolate. I know I never have. So in a way, today's post is more about an unusual food for self-described members of Western society.
Man has consumed insects, probably since man was man. If it exists on planet Earth, I am 99.99% sure someone, somewhere, and at some time has attempted to eat it. The problem with modern culture (and in this case particularly Western culture) regarding ingestables, rests squarely with the development of social mores. As time goes on and society begins to flourish, it seems develop a sense of "group think" regarding its diet. At times this is a direct result of a societal religious belief, but this isn't always the case. For non-religious examples look no further than the American fast-food/ processed-food craze of the 20th century.
One could make the case that Western society's aversion to insects developed as a result of Judeo-Christian influence, the teachings of which denounce the consumption of insects (and lobsters incidentally). If this were the case, Western society should hold pigs (and lobsters) in equal regard with insects. But we don't; in fact we love pigs soooo much that many experts are predicting a bacon shortage (gasp) next year. Okay that may be an exaggeration, but we can expect pork prices to rise by as much as 100% during 2013 due to exploding demand.
While our disdain for insects might be unclear, the nutritional value of these creepy crawlies is not. High in protein and (mostly) low in fat, insects offer a wide and varied source of nutrition for large populations around the globe. Heck we even eat regurgitated, partially-digested plant materials mixed with insect saliva; we call just call it honey.
Perhaps it's the fact that insects are so incredibly foreign. Perhaps it's because they can spread disease and can be toxic to humans. But so can a lot of things. The alligator and rattlesnake are also pretty foreign to most Westerners and can be incredibly dangerous, but we are consuming their flesh in record amounts.
The lowly insect gets a bad rap. So this Sunday, try to be an adventurous foody and buck the "Western diet." After all, a chocolate covered ant can't be any worse for you than a Big Mac.
Eat good food. Drink good beer. And above all, stay classy!