November 8, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Re-imagining Food

Would you eat these things? Gross but nutritious, some health scientists say we should.

What’s That Fly Doing in My Soup? The Backstroke, Sir

A press release from the University of Queensland bears the clever title, “Waiter, there’s a (black soldier) fly in my soup.” A clever chef may have to dress this one up a little before most customers would try it. Maybe put cheese on it, or hot sauce.

It may seem a little hard to swallow but the larvae of a waste-eating fly could become a new alternative protein source for humans, according to a University of Queensland scientist.

Professor Louw Hoffman said black soldier fly’s larvae, which was already utilised for animal feed, was a high quality protein.

“Just like meat, it contains all the nutrients humans need for health,” Professor Hoffman said.

“The larvae is richer in zinc and iron than lean meat, and its calcium content is as high as that of milk.

Pretty food is not necessarily more nutritious, warns the Journal of Marketing. If you had a bowl of deliciously-cooked fly larva without looking at it or knowing what it was, would you have the same reaction?

Surprisingly, other insects like locusts and grasshoppers are also loaded with good nutrients. Perhaps members of the Sierra Club should be the first testers.

It’s estimated that less than half a hectare of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than cattle grazing on around 1200 hectares, or 52 hectares of soybeans.

“If you care about the environment, then you should consider and be willing to eat insect protein,” he said.

Junior, Finish Your Jellyfish

The BBC News says that scientists are talking up a “perfect food” – jellyfish. Well, some jellyfish. Many have nasty poison stingers, but not all; some are very benign, waiting for your taste buds. Watch the Jelly Cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Such fascinating animals!

Australian scientists argue that jellyfish harvesting is more sustainable than fishing. Edible species of jellyfish are freely available in vast numbers, and are renewable because many are genetic clones. They are also a good diet food with only 36 calories in a 3-ounce serving. And they have protein. But since they are as flavorless as lettuce, they need a good sauce to make them attractive. Some cultures have been eating jellyfish for thousands of years. They are considered a gourmet food in some restaurants.

Watch the video in the article and see if you could savor the chewy, crunchy, gristle-like feel of a blue blubber jellyfish in your mouth. Marine biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin describes it as a “cross between cucumbers and rubber bands.” Will your kid finish his or her peanut-butter-and-jellyfish sandwich, or just gross out all the other kids at the lunch table? Try it as a new goldfish-swallowing or ice-bucket challenge for a charity and maybe it will catch on. And look for it at your next Asian restaurant; they eat anything.

Moon jellies in an aquarium. They’re lovely to watch, but would you eat one? Don’t eat these ones. They have stingers.  (DFC)

We are surrounded by resources that could be good for us, but we tend to get used to just a few favorites. It might be worthwhile to expand our horizons. Like the old TV commercial said, “Try it; you’ll like it.”

Exercise: If you like to cook, try making a meal using black soldier fly larvae and jellyfish. Be creative. George Washington Carver made a whole meal out of peanuts, including entree, side dishes, beverage and dessert. Maybe you could add some Moringa dishes for the salad. Spring your culinary creations on some guests without telling them what it is – but have some barf bags ready when you reveal the secret.

 

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