Magazine February 24, 2020, Issue

Bug Bourguignon

Max Kraemer of the start-up “Bug Foundation” bites into a hamburger made of Buffalo worms that he created together with a business economist during its premiere in Aachen, Germany, April 20, 2018. (Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

You should eat bugs. Or so a recent spate of articles on the Web insist. You there, sitting down to a fine steak with béarnaise sauce and a robust red: That’s killing the planet, brother. If we want to survive the 21st century, you’d best adopt the diet of a madman in a dank cell in Transylvania who snatches spiders from the end of their threads. 

Here’s an example from Engadget, a “tech” blog that used to tell you about which hard drive was the fastest and now abounds with bossy, hectoring, woke nonsense. I’d say “tripe” but that’s probably what they want us to eat, too. 

Headline: “Get Ready to Eat Bugs If You Want to Live Beyond 2050.”

Subhead: “Beef won’t be what’s for dinner much longer.”

Excerpt: “By 2050 there will be an estimated 10 billion humans living on this planet. . . . We simply don’t have the capability, the land or the production resources to ensure that many people can eat a cheeseburger whenever the mood strikes. Luckily — ”

Let’s stop right here. Just because the world population is going to hit 10 billion does not mean that 10 billion cheeseburgers must be available daily. There is no binding U.N. compact that guarantees a Happy Meal for everyone. You’d think all food produced in the world was shipped to a big central facility that handled global distribution. No Quarter Pounders for Iowa this year, Senegal’s population has surged! 

“Luckily,” as you might imagine, refers to food researchers’ pronouncement that a plate of crickets can get you through the day just as well. 

Let’s paraphrase the stories, because they’re all the same. You’ll find pronouncements such as these:

“Westerners . . .”

Translation: White Iowans and weirdo homeschooler advocates in Georgia . . .

 “ . . . have been trained to think that beef is what’s for dinner.”

Translation: They enjoy easy, inexpensive access to protein in beefy form and have made their peace with the Industrial–Carnivore Complex because there’s nothing like a hamburger to let you know you’re in America. An inch-thick burger, weeping with tears of joyous meat juice, wearing a sheet of cheese and haloed with crisp rings of onions — you ever tried to get one of those in another country, friend? It might answer your questions about what happened to the descendants of Secretariat.

“And many have a cultural hang-up about eating insects.”

Translation: First of all, Americans don’t eat anything that lives on land and has more than four legs. You got something there with 16 clickety limbs and eyes up on stalks, that isn’t dinner. That’s a call to Orkin. Secondly, you got guys in prison because we have a cultural hang-up about sex with children. Not saying they’re on the same moral plane — no one ever shanked a dude in the showers because he ate a beetle — but if Culture A says, “What a delight it is to feel the feathery frisson of centipede limbs as you ingest them tartare,” then Culture B is completely entitled to respond, “Thanks, I’m going with the nachos.”

“This doesn’t mean that insects aren’t the food of the future.”

Translation: Nothing would please the author more than thinking that people in Des Moines or Lubbock can’t get a steak and have to eat plates of insects because they’re the ones who drive pickups and live in single-family houses and vote for Trump, and the world will be destroyed unless their red-state paradigm is utterly demolished and replaced with a new paradigm. What’s totally funny is that they will have to switch from Red Lobster to Red Cockroach, and it’ll be, like, you know, breaded and deep-fried, but in New York City we will have excellent authentic insect takeout with awesome spices!

“In fact, insects could form a substantial part of the Western diet if climate change continues to threaten ecosystems and lead to famine and coastal inundation.”

Yes, and a paste made of hot ash and ground-up bones could form a big part of our diet if a meteor smashes into the earth, but I’m not planning the week’s menus on that possibility, either. 

“So what should you do to get ready for this brave new — and crunchy! — world?”

Well, “install a video doorbell and stock up on ammo” comes to mind, in case you guys think this is going to be mandatory, but it probably won’t come to that. What we’ll do is this:

Desist from ever visiting the pro-bug-dinner website again, because it is run by wan creatures resembling males — the sort of fellows who will also insist that we ride fat-tire bikes to work and who drink hoppy beer made by men with lumberjack facial hair who subscribe to a beard-cream-of-the-month service. 

Of course these tiresome people know that we won’t eat braised locust or pan-seared millipede or clap our hands in delight when the waiter brings out an enormous Madagascar hissing cockroach on a spit. They know we will not gobble carob-covered crickets or sprinkle our gluten-free cakes with crumbled honeybee torsos. That’s what makes the tiresome people special in their own minds: They aren’t bound by the silly shibboleths that bind Americans like a million Lilliputian strings. 

Everything’s up for reconsideration, and isn’t that great?  Transportation! Housing! The meaning of citizenship! National sovereignty! Gender! We can rethink it all, and while we’re at it, bug-kabobs for everyone!

Well, not everyone. You will eat bugs. The people who decide you should eat bugs will not eat bugs. 

I’m not sure why I think that’ll be the case, but somehow it always works out that way. It’s probably for the best. The people who know what’s best for the rest of us have to keep their strength up somehow.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Most Popular

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More
World

All Signs Point to China

Just one big story today: collecting and sorting through what we know about the coronavirus's origins, and what makes sense and what doesn’t in the theory that it originated from someone eating bats or pangolins from the Huanan Seafood Market. What We Know and What We Don’t Know about the Source of ... Read More
World

All Signs Point to China

Just one big story today: collecting and sorting through what we know about the coronavirus's origins, and what makes sense and what doesn’t in the theory that it originated from someone eating bats or pangolins from the Huanan Seafood Market. What We Know and What We Don’t Know about the Source of ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Film & TV

America’s Favorite Movie

For more than a decade, readers volunteering their ratings on the movie site IMDb have declared The Shawshank Redemption (1994) their favorite film of all time. (Number two is The Godfather). Unlike the unholy tablets that are the box office charts, which are strongly linked to marketing budgets and show a ... Read More
Film & TV

America’s Favorite Movie

For more than a decade, readers volunteering their ratings on the movie site IMDb have declared The Shawshank Redemption (1994) their favorite film of all time. (Number two is The Godfather). Unlike the unholy tablets that are the box office charts, which are strongly linked to marketing budgets and show a ... Read More