Saturday, February 22, 2014

Daniella Martin's "Edible"

Daniella Martin is the host of Girl Meets Bug, the insect cooking/travel show. She also blogs about bugs for the Huffington Post.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet, and reported the following:
People generally have the wrong idea about insects. But adopting them into our food supply could help change the world in some of the areas that most need changing: resource usage, farming practices, food shortages, and even global warming. Eating bugs or “entomophagy” is like this logically elegant, yet irrationally reviled solution to a lot of our problems.

I tried to make my new book Edible interesting as a stand-alone work of nonfiction, and not only for people who might be interested in eating insects. Even for someone who has no interest in entomophagy, Edible breaks down what it currently takes for our protein to get from farm to table: species-by-species resource usage, production efficiency, nutrient density, and so on. It sets the scene for someone to understand why this aspect of our food production is so ripe for innovation. It also provides insight into how other cultures view this kind of food.

There have been a few other forays into this subject, but none I think with as much an attitude of normalcy. Getting past the ick-factor is where the real learning (and the real insight into an unseen world) begins. Sometimes the answer to our question lies in the place we're least likely, or least willing to look.

On page 99 of Edible, I interview attendees of the Stanford alumni dinner after serving them “Corn Caterpillar Tamales.”

From page 99:
Almost everyone agrees the tamales were, at the very least, tasty.

“They certainly weren’t any worse than regular tamales,” one discerning person said. “I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say they were better, but they weren’t worse.”

“Yeah, if they were similarly priced, I’d consider ordering them at a restaurant.”

I take that as a compliment.

“They were excellent,” says another guest. “They were my favorite food of the night.”

I’m particularly interested in what people think of the idea of bringing food pests to the table. Their reactions to this are mixed.

“I love the idea,” says John Openshaw, a medical doctor who researches infectious diseases. “I think it’s ahead of its time. But I think it will have its time.”

“‘Corn earworm’ is a terrible name,” puts in Paul Hsu.

“Maybe use their Latin name.” Heliothis zea tamales. Heliotamale?

“Also, ‘pest’ has bad connotations,” adds food blogger Rory Everitt. “Maybe make it into a symbol of purity, like they did with mezcal worms. It’s going beyond just farm-to-table, it’s like bringing the whole ecosystem to the table.”


“I liked the novelty of it. Something different, something that has a social-good factor. You’re doing something good for yourself and the environment. It’s a win-win,” someone else adds, chewing thoughtfully.

Why don’t we eat insects anymore? What caused the big “bug breakup”?

No one knows for certain why we stopped eating bugs…
(Excerpt by permission of publisher, Amazon Publishing/New Harvest. Copyright Daniella Martin © 2014. All rights reserved.)
Learn more about the book and author at Daniella Martin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue