Ento-what? Entomophagy means the eating of insects as food. I know what you're thinking (I thought it too), and perhaps it's not the most popular cuisine in the US, but fifty years ago, the though of eating raw fish here in the States would have been met with the same disgust. And now there's a sushi place in every neighborhood! The reasons for eating insects as food go far beyond taste preference and culture. The following articles shed light on the discussion and are an interesting read. I used the information to create a short lesson for children ages 9-12 (using movement and yoga) that will spark a lively discussion (or debate!), expose them to global culture, introduce vocabulary words, and allow for critical thinking about issues surrounding population growth, disease, economics and food.
Researchers believe that within 40 years, the world will rely on a 70% increase in food production to feed our growing population. Where will all of that food come from? Last year at a conference in Rome, experts shared their reasons why the consumption of insects on a global scale would promote good health, economical benefits and a cleaner environment around the world. Here are a few of their points:
- Insects are already regarded as good snacks across Asia, S. America, Mexico and Africa because of their high nutritional value. An estimated 4 out of 5 people on earth eat insects on purpose, and the rest of us consume them unintentionally. In the US, a small percentage of insects are allowed by the USDA in some chocolates, peanut butter and fruit juice.
- Insects are higher in protein than meat and fish, and contain fiber, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc (or, “micronutrients”).
- Insects adapt quickly to climate change, so it would be easy to raise and harvest them in most places. The cost of “farming” insects is low, and the processes are eco-friendly.
- Insects have a low risk of transmitting disease to humans, unlike many farmed animals.
Ø Bee Larvae Roasted in Butter (said to have a flavor similar to mushroomy bacon) China
Movement Game: Buzzing Bees Students stand in a large circle with arms outstretched, palms facing ahead. Explain that as a class, we will begin to hum like a colony of bees. Students will close their eyes and begin to take steps forward, as they hum softly. When their “antennae” meet another set of “antennae,” they will touch palms, freeze, and stop humming. The bees must listen and be aware and move slowly until all bees have found a co-worker. This game teaches focus, awareness, cooperation, and trust.
Ø Deep-fried Tarantula Cambodia
Spider Crawl Sit with hands on floor behind you, knees bent. Press into hands and feet to lift body away from floor and slowly walk like a tarantula making its way through the rough jungle floor. This works core strength, balance, and stretches the shoulder joint. Try lifting the toes and crawling on hands and heels, or lift the heels and crawl on hands and toes. Move forward and back, side to side.
Locust Pose On belly with legs straight, toes pointed, hands under shoulders. Lift legs and hands off the floor to balance. This pose strengthens the back body and counteracts the “forward head” that we spend so much time in—hunching forward toward a computer or smartphone. Opens the shoulders.
Ø Bamboo Caterpillar with Herbs Thailand
Walking Forearm Plank Balance on forearms and toes, with body lifted off floor. Try to take some “steps” like a caterpillar. Full body strength and coordination exercise.
Ø Toasted Spiced Grasshoppers Mexico
Grasshopper Pose Preparation Sit with knees bent, feet on floor. Rest hands behind hips on the floor. Cross one ankle over opposite knee, foot flexed. Lift same arm as crossed leg and twist toward the flexed foot, lodging the elbow or shoulder of lifted arm across foot. Twisting poses aid digestion and keep the spine supple. This pose is also a hip opener.
Ø Scorpion Skewers (taste like soft-shell crab) Thailand/China
Scorpion Pose Modification With hands and knees on the floor, extend one leg away from body, bend the knee and point the toe up toward ceiling. Allow back to arch toward the floor, stretching the front of the body and strengthening the hamstring and glute of the lifted leg.
Scorpion Pose Preparation Place forearms (can also be done on hands) on floor with palms flat. Walk feet in towards hands with bent knees, forming an upside-down V shape. Lift one leg, knee bent, toe pointed, like the scorpion’s stinging tail. This pose strengthens the upper body and stretches the legs, and also challenges balance.
Ø Energy-Boost Butterflies (Women and children often eat these because they are rich in iron and protein, which children need to grow, and women of childbearing age are often deficient in these nutrients) Africa
Butterfly Pose Sit on the floor with knees bent to sides, soles of the feet touching. Hold ankles or toes and sit tall. Stretches the hips and groin, provides relief for low back pain.
Ø Boiled Dragonfly Indonesia/China
Dragonfly Pose (Yin Yoga Version) From Butterfly Pose, extend legs to the sides. Either place hands on floor behind you or tilt forward from the hips to rest on forearms. The pose stretches the inner legs and hamstrings.
Ø Coal-Roasted June Bug Popcorn Native American
Dead Bug Pose/Flipped Bug Pose Lie down and hug knees in toward chest. Flex feet and point soles of feet to sky, holding outer edges of feet with hands. Rock side to side. This opens the hips and groin, and massages the sacrum (low back).
Have you ever eaten insects?
If you could try anything on your menu, which dish sounds most interesting?
What are some good reasons for us to think about farming insects as a future source of food for the billions of people on earth?
Which insect pose or game did you enjoy? Which one felt challenging?
Sources (The last link includes an A-Z list of edible insects with images)