THE LONG VIEW: Future dietary changes might have you bugging out

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You'll be happy to know your grocery store produce label is made of edible paper and its adhesive is “food grade."  Thus, you may chomp into that apple or pear enjoying a little extra fiber from that sticker.

We can thank the Food and Drug Administration for these digestible decals. This agency is also responsible for determining how much non-food is officially acceptable in our foodstuffs.

You'll be happy to know your grocery store produce label is made of edible paper and its adhesive is “food grade."  Thus, you may chomp into that apple or pear enjoying a little extra fiber from that sticker.

We can thank the Food and Drug Administration for these digestible decals. This agency is also responsible for determining how much non-food is officially acceptable in our foodstuffs.

In fact, the FDA has precisely defined the maximum levels of insect contamination permissible in food products for humans, the level below which no health hazard is posed. For example, regulations forbid living insects in wheat flour, but allow bug pieces, declaring “contamination on the average of less than 150 insect fragments per 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of wheat flour poses no health hazard."

The rules are very specific. Peanut butter may contain up to 30 insect fragments per 100 grams. Thanks to the feverish labors of the shredded carrot lobby, said carrots may legally have up to 800 insect fragments per 10 gram (about one third of an ounce).

If you have 225 grams of noodles (half a pound), your starchy bowl may legally harbor 225 insect fragments, but your 100-gram chocolate bar can include no more than 60 creepy crawler segments. We should all be thankful that we do not snack on hops, for which the FDA sanctions a surprising 2,500 aphids per 10 grams.

One wonders what regulators will make of the new culinary world of entomophagy, where humans consume insects as food. Ready or not, bugs are on the menu.

As far away as Africa and Asia or as near as Mexico, other cultures chow down on insects. According to experts, the bug buffet includes 235 types of butterflies and moths, 344 species of beetles, 313 species of ants, bees and wasps, 239 species of grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches, 39 species of termites, as well as 20 kinds of dragonflies.

In the U.S., we can now enjoy the Exo all natural cricket flour protein bar. Bodybuilders might opt for Bug Muscle’s nutritional supplement, made from 80 percent crickets and grasshoppers. To leave your party guests emotionally shaken, not stirred, you may choose to serve cocktails doused with Cricket Bitters. You can start your day with the cricket-based chew of Hopper Crunch Granola. 

The Bug Bistro line of whole crickets and mealworms have the guts roasted out. Bitty Foods has packed so much cricket flour flavor into their line of cookies, your children are sure to say, “Jiminy!” Or maybe they'll prefer cricket-based Crickers Crackers or the onomatopoeically named Chirps Cricket Chips.

And surely some British firm will soon be selling Cricket Crisps, leaving me sorry I did not trademark that brand name. 

Given the world's growing population, I suppose it's just a matter of time before we turn to tinier, six-legged sources of protein. You may not relish the thought of lemony locusts with lentils or bean and beetle biscuits, but wait until you're hungry.

Who knows, that sautéed serving of larval palm weevil might have you exclaiming, “best grub I ever ate."

 

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com