Tuesday January 21, 2020
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Gourmet Grubs Squirm Onto American Plate

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects."

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Food
Andrew takes a tentative taste of baked, salted mealworm at Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch. VOA

A huge shipping container in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, is the home of some of the nation’s smallest livestock. Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm, and one of fewer than three dozen companies in the U.S. growing insects as human food or animal feed.

Wendy Lu McGill started her company in 2015, and today grows nearly 275 kilos of crickets and mealworms every month. “I want to be part of trying to figure out how to feed ourselves better as we have less land and water and a hotter planet and more people to feed,” she explains.

Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.
Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.

Feeding the world’s appetite for protein through beef and even chicken is unsustainable, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Protein from bugs is more doable.

On the global menu

Edible insects are a great source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. Edible grubs — insect larvae — offer all that, plus high quality fat, which is good for brain development.

Insects are part of the diet in many parts of the world. Analysts say the global edible insects market is poised to surpass $710 million by 2024, with some estimates as high as $1.2 billion. And while American consumers comprise a small percentage of that market today, there is growing demand for a variety of insect-infused products.

Thinking small

Amy Franklin is the founder of a non-profit called Farms for Orphans, which is working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “What we do is farm bugs for food because in other countries where we work, they’re a really, really popular food,” she notes.

In Kinshasa’s markets, vendors sell platters of live wild-caught crickets plus big bowls of pulsating African Palm weevil larvae. These wild insects are only plentiful in certain seasons.

Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans)
Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans). VOA

Franklin’s group helps orphanages grow African Palm weevil larvae year round, in shipping containers. “Most of the orphanages don’t own any land. There really is no opportunity for them to grow a garden or to raise chickens. Insects are a protein source that they can grow in a very small space.”

Changing the American palate

It’s estimated that more than 2 billion people worldwide eat insects every day. And even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that consumption of crickets and mealworms is safe and that they are a natural protein source, many Americans, like Denver grandfather Terry Koelling, remain skeptical. As he and his grandchildren take a tour of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, he admits, “I don’t think they are very appealing, as something to put in your mouth. You see them around dead things, and it just does not appeal to me to eat something that wild.”

Koelling gets adventurous at Linger, a Denver restaurant that has had an insect entree on its menu for three years.

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects.”

Also Read: US Military Planes Deliver Aid to Venezuela-Colombia Border

And so Koelling takes a forkful of the Cricket Soba Noodle dish, with black ants, sesame seeds and crickets mixed in with green tea soba noodles, and garnished with Chapuline Crickets.

“The seasoning’s great!” he says with surprise, adding, “Seems to me there weren’t enough crickets in it!” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s How a Low Fat Diet May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Researchers have found links between obesity and pancreatic cancer

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Pancreatic Cancer
There is a significant connection between obesity and Pancreatic Cancer. Lifetime Stock

The sound of the word ‘Cancer is enough to scare anyone because there is no definite cure for it. Pancreatic cancer is one of those cancers in which the overall survival is very bleak as cases are often less sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Dr Pradeep Jain, GI Oncosurgery, Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh informs you about the connection between obesity and Pancreatic Cancer.

The best method to decrease the mortality (death rate) of these cancers is to either catch them early or prevent them happening. In view of non-availability of any screening test and limitation of diagnostic test, it is almost impossible to catch them very early. As dietary modification has been known for a long time to prevent cancer, it is likely to work in case of pancreatic cancer also.

diet pancreatic cancer
Dietary modification has been known to cut down the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Lifetime Stock

Pancreatic cancer is associated with obesity and fat consumption as suggested in many epidemiological studies. Consumption of fat has been linked to pancreatic cancer not only directly but also by causing obesity. In obesity there is a general increase in inflammatory conditions in the body which leads to release of some chemicals (cytokines) which have important role in creation of pancreatic cancer.

Fat consumption (mainly saturated fats) have been shown to increase cancer of the pancreas by many observational studies in last 2 decades. In fact a study published (which comprised of more than half million US adults) in journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2009 demonstrated a positive association between dietary intake of total fat, particularly from animal sources. When people taking highest of fat compared to people taking lowest of fat, they are 23 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (the effect was more profound when intake of saturated fat was more).

It is very difficult to comment how does fat consumption lead to pancreatic cancer, but it is likely that fat stimulates the release of an important hormone CCK (Cholecystokinin) for biliary and pancreatic secretion. And this hormone is an important instrument in the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.

In fact, in an experimental study, the antagonist of CCK, Proglumide has shown to decrease the growth of cancer cells and decrease metastasis (spread) potential of cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is associated with obesity and fat consumption. Lifetime Stock

Now this leads to an important question whether with diet modification (by reducing content of fat) is it possible to decrease the chances of pancreatic cancer? A recent study published in Nov 2017 issue of AICR’S cancer research update) have found that older women who are overweight or obese had lowered the risk of getting pancreatic cancer by following a low fat diet plan.

Some were arranged to eat less fat and more vegetables, fruits and grains (the intervention group) other followed their normal diet (the comparison group). After 15 years of follow up, 92 cases of pancreatic cancer were identified in the intervention group and 165 in the comparison group. This translates to a rate of 35 cases per 100,000 in the intervention group and 41 per 100,000 in the comparison group.

Low fat diet was particularly effective in reducing cancer risk in over weight and obese post-menopausal woman. A low fat diet was not found to lower the disease risk for women whose weight was normal.

Also Read- Here’s How Sugar Relates to Cancer

Though these evidences support that high fat consumption may increase the chances of pancreatic cancer and by reducing the fat consumption the incidence of cancer may decrease, but these cannot be considered as very strong evidence to support a ‘cause and effect’. But this can be considered at least a caution to decrease fat (particularly animal fat) consumption in diet.

Foods that are sources of saturated or trans fats are butter, margarine (stick), coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable oil and hydrogenated oil. We should motivate the general public to consume more of fibre and exercise and reduce saturated fat content from diet. (IANS)