Saturday, September 21, 2013

The hunger games

Ah, the ability to be able to choose what we want - an ability we often take for granted, which brings me to this: what looks tastier to you: picture one or two?

images courtesy of Queensland Museum, Australia and
Most people would choose picture two because it looks like an egg, easy peasy right? Not so fast. Alright all of you iron stomachers (not really a group - or maybe they are?) out there, hear this: the food you eat in the future could come from cockroach and beetle larvae. That's right up and coming "foodies", picture number one could become a future treat. Oh I can hear the chorus of hoorays already! The bugs for brunch scenario above may be ok for the adventurous types, but the rest of the population may be testing their gag reflexes at the thought. The sad truth is that with an expanding global population, we may need to seek these very serious alternatives in order to feed a hungry planet.

The culinary life we currently lead in North America is, in a word - gluttonous. Anyone who argues this is either blind or completely ignorant of the world we inhabit. There is no escaping the endless commercials showing ooey-gooey crap, and in some cases, serious barf-inducing inventions (cro-nut anyone?). The food industry knows there is a market for this type of 'product', so who is it hurting? When we are hungry, there are endless choices available in most household fridges. If we're out of ready-made foods or snacks at home, we might wander down to the grocery store, or a cafe or restaurant to satisfy our hunger. There is a point to this.

We, and again, this is purely from a North American perspective, talk a lot about food. We think about food, dream about ways to make it more interesting, more original, or better tasting. It is in our face, literally and figuratively, 24/7. Most of us know it's going to be there when we wake up and available whenever we'd like. We think about food, but we never seem to give much thought to what would happen to us if the things we love to eat weren't available anymore. We have become so used to getting what we want, when we want it, that we never really think about what it would mean if we had to make some serious changes to what we put on our plates. What would happen to people if they knew that carton of eggs could be replaced by a substitute made from the intestines of grasshoppers. I mean lets be honest, grasshopper on the menu may turn the stomach of plenty of people here, but it's happily eaten elsewhere around the world. Lots of hypothetical "what if's" being asked in this post, but it is a serious topic worth exploring.

There is no doubt, thanks in part to an ever-growing planet, that the food we have grown to love and rely on may not be sustainable. Options need to be created now, and they are, but our perceptions and reactions to these new creations will have to be changed. It won't be easy, We live in a world of food vigilantism and the internet. Nothing is a secret anymore which works both for and against food producers.

Next time you're hungry and peek into the fridge and see that pizza from the night before, keep in mind one day that dough could be made from ground ants. The toppings come from an assortment of plants and insects you'd never dream you'd eat. Don't laugh or gag, believe me, it's coming.

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