Can eating insects save the world?

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Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Coyote » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:39 pm

Just watching this bbc documentary http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01599yk

I had no idea bug-eating was so popular in these Buddhist countries - Thailand, Cambodia ect.
Anyone had any experience eating insects? For the Thais/those been to Thailand, is it really commonly though of as good food? It is quite hard to believe.

Edit: They go to a monastery near the end and offer some ant dishes to the monks to "atone for the sin of being an ant-farmer".
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:46 pm

Coyote wrote:Just watching this bbc documentary http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01599yk

I had no idea bug-eating was so popular in these Buddhist countries - Thailand, Cambodia ect.
Anyone had any experience eating insects? For the Thais/those been to Thailand, is it really commonly though of as good food? It is quite hard to believe.

Edit: They go to a monastery near the end and offer some ant dishes to the monks to "atone for the sin of being an ant-farmer".


It would indeed be better for the environment, if instead of raising cattle as a 'source of protein', that we raised insects on a mass scale instead. But just as with cattle, the problem remains that they are sentient beings who seek pleasure, dislike pain, want to live and not to die. So as far as I'm concerned, we ought to focus our energies on finding efficient ways to get protein from plants instead.

As for some folks actually enjoying eating them, what a nightmarish idea. Our closest 'relatives' in the animal realm, chimps and gorillas, are primarily fruit-eaters. Chimps will sometimes eat termites, etc, but then, they are animals. We humans don't need to go to such extremes, there is adequate nutrition available from plant sources for anyone living in an agricultural society.

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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Coyote » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:03 pm

manas wrote:It would indeed be better for the environment, if instead of raising cattle as a 'source of protein', that we raised insects on a mass scale instead. But just as with cattle, the problem remains that they are sentient beings who seek pleasure, dislike pain, want to live and not to die. So as far as I'm concerned, we ought to focus our energies on finding efficient ways to get protein from plants instead.

As for some folks actually enjoying eating them, what a nightmarish idea. Our closest 'relatives' in the animal realm, chimps and gorillas, are primarily fruit-eaters. Chimps will sometimes eat termites, etc, but then, they are animals. We humans don't need to go to such extremes, there is adequate nutrition available from plant sources for anyone living in an agricultural society.


I agree. It's better to look for sustainable plant sources ethically and environmentally.
Also it's like lobster where you have to kill them immediately before you eat them, making them a not very Buddhist food. In the documentary you see them being killed by the vendor or being fried alive. It's interesting though, and I wouldn't really have a problem with eating them providing the killing was far removed from me. But saying that I don't have a problem with eating meat either. I don't think some of them look any worse than shrimp or crab.
But environmentally speaking it is far better, I would think, to farm insects. Mammals just take up so much space, food, and water.
The really interesting thing though, is that it isn't really an extreme. We likely survived on a diet of insects in the past, and in some places in Thailand they seem to still, and really enjoy it. Brains, eyes, marrow ect. all seem strange to us westerners but were no problem for our primitive ancestors nor in other cultures.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:03 pm

Coyote wrote:Just watching this bbc documentary http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01599yk

I had no idea bug-eating was so popular in these Buddhist countries - Thailand, Cambodia ect.
Anyone had any experience eating insects? For the Thais/those been to Thailand, is it really commonly though of as good food? It is quite hard to believe.

Edit: They go to a monastery near the end and offer some ant dishes to the monks to "atone for the sin of being an ant-farmer".

Bug Eating is found in allot of countries, and you probably intentionally consumed a product made with bugs. I think it is cochineal food coloring is a Bug based e-number. and there are people who make it part of their meals in every country (I mean the natives to the land). I remember the earthworm jim comic having a worm lolipop also. and China do have a large selection of insect dishes.
This isn't really relevant to the thread, but your last line reminded me of it. There is a cemetery in Japan where companies put up memorials for the dead (not sure if it is a specific area or in many cemeteries...). and one memorial is by a termite extermination company who put a monument up for the termites.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:30 pm

Cittasanto wrote: There is a cemetery in Japan where companies put up memorials for the dead (not sure if it is a specific area or in many cemeteries...). and one memorial is by a termite extermination company who put a monument up for the termites.


I like that. Termites are actually fascinating creatures. If we got to know them better, we might have more empathy for them, instead of seeing them as merely 'pests':



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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Coyote » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:34 pm

There's also a really fun documentary on ants that the bbc made called "planet ant", where they transport a colony of ants into a lab like environment to observe them. Though it seems quite cruel I don't think the ants noticed. It's amazing what these little creatures can do.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Mojo » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:35 pm

I love me some crickets. The first time I had some, I was with my sister and we went into a candy store where they were selling a package that had two each of cooked crickets, mealworms, chocolate covered mealworms, and chocolate covered crickets. I didn't particularly care for the mealworms but loved the crickets.

A couple years ago, I bought 5 dozen crickets from the pet store and stir fried them in olive oil and salt. It was wonderful. Kinda looker popcorn. If like to try tarantulas some day. They are supposed to be like crab, which incidentally I'd pretty much a bug imo along with shrimp and lobster and crayfish.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:44 pm

Mojo wrote:A couple years ago, I bought 5 dozen crickets from the pet store and stir fried them in olive oil and salt. It was wonderful.


Maybe for you, mojo, but not for the crickets. How would you feel if you were fried up like that?
Last edited by manas on Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Coyote » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:49 pm

manas wrote:Maybe for you, mojo, but not for the crickets.


Is it really any worse than shrimp? Unless he fried them alive...
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:58 pm

Coyote wrote:
manas wrote:Maybe for you, mojo, but not for the crickets.


Is it really any worse than shrimp? Unless he fried them alive...


Crickets come still alive from the pet store. I'm sorry if I sound harsh but as this is a Buddhist site, it is our duty to inform people who come here, that not only should we not kill or harm living beings, but that we ought to maybe express a little bit of regret or remorse if in the past we did so, rather than delight.

If they came already dead, then I am happy to apologise to him. But reading his post I got the impression that they were actually fried while still living:

A couple years ago, I bought 5 dozen crickets from the pet store and stir fried them in olive oil and salt. It was wonderful. Kinda looker popcorn.


Crickets are neither the same shape, nor the same colour, as popcorn. So then, the 'popcorn' analogy refers to what?

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Last edited by manas on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Coyote » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:04 am

manas wrote:
Crickets come still alive from the pet store. I'm sorry if I sound harsh but as this is a Buddhist site, it is our duty to inform people who come here, that not only should we not kill or harm living beings, but that we ought to maybe express a little bit of regret or remorse if in the past we did so, rather than delight.

If they came already dead, then I am happy to apologise to him. But reading his post I got the impression that they were actually fried while still living.

:anjali:


You're right, my mistake. I have seen dead ones sold as snake food, but god knows where they've been or what's been put on them.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby pilgrim » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:18 am

Shrimp is nothing. If you eat squid or cuttlefish you can eat anything. Think about it - bug eyed critters with translucent flesh, skin which change colour, tentacles with suckers , they swim backwards and secrete ink.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:47 am

pilgrim wrote:Shrimp is nothing. If you eat squid or cuttlefish you can eat anything. Think about it - bug eyed critters with translucent flesh, skin which change colour, tentacles with suckers , they swim backwards and secrete ink.


Once again, amazing creatures which, if we got to know them better, we would feel too much compassion for, to ever consider eating. (I'm not judging anyone who was served up this as food though. I too have eaten all sorts of things out of politeness, because it was offered with goodwill.)

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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Mojo » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:41 am

manas wrote:
Mojo wrote:A couple years ago, I bought 5 dozen crickets from the pet store and stir fried them in olive oil and salt. It was wonderful.


Maybe for you, mojo, but not for the crickets. How would you feel if you were fried up like that?


Terrible. I'm glad I'm not a cricket, though I'm not entirely sure what sense faculties they have.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Mojo » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:54 am

Crickets kind of taste like popcorn. Its been a while but I think I the them in the freezer before cooking them. I'm not a vegetarian. I mostly eat fish and chicken but will eat about anything really. I'm not particularly concerned about the suffering of something killed in the name of food. I'm mostly concerned with human suffering and I'm not concerned with or believe in rebirth. I still believe Buddhism has a good place in my life.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:57 am

I'm quite friendly with the spiders in my house and I wouldn't dream of deep-frying them. So I will stick with quorn fillets, which taste a bit like chicken actually.... :tongue:
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:27 am

Some people will even eat porpoise, some hunters apparently eat coyote too!
Much of the dolphin meat sold around Japan is actually mislabeled or sold as counterfeit whale meat from larger a whale, which sells for far more money than dolphin meat. Hundreds of samples of dolphin meat tested from around Japan has all been shown to be toxic and far exceeds their own ministry of health recommendations. Some internal organ meat for sale at the Okura markets near Taiji was analyzed to have 5000 times more mercury than the health advisory of 0.4 ppm.

The oceans around industrialized countries such as China, Japan and the United States is some of the most polluted in the world and the dolphins residing in those waters are some of the most toxic in the world. For instance, if fish has more than 2 ppm (parts per million) of PCB’s, the EPA requires that it not be fit for human consumption. Bottlenose dolphins off the East Coast of the United States can have up to 6800 ppm and if one washed up on the shores it would be eligible for clean-up as a super-fund site.

The scale of the trade in bugs from Cambodia surprised me, though I was already aware that the people from NE Thailand ate bugs and frogs. I suppose its no worse than eating shrimps or any other kind of fish or flesh, though it is repugnant to most westerners.

I don't think the economic or carbon footprint arguments hold up very well. It is mainly the poorest of the poor who resort to eating bugs. Investing in better farming methods would make more sense than patrolling the fields at night to pick up bugs one at a time or collecting red ants. The children should be in school during the day, and sleeping at night if they want to improve their standard of living.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:20 pm

Mojo wrote:Crickets kind of taste like popcorn. Its been a while but I think I the them in the freezer before cooking them.


If that's the case. and you did not cook them while still alive, then I apologise if I seemed judging of you. But the way you wrote your post did give that impression, do you see what I mean?

Mojo wrote:I'm not particularly concerned about the suffering of something killed in the name of food. I'm mostly concerned with human suffering and I'm not concerned with or believe in rebirth. I still believe Buddhism has a good place in my life.


I would still invite you to put yourself in their place; try to imagine how they might feel, even if you don't believe in rebirth. Yes insects do feel both pleasure and pain. Even insects should be treated with respect whenever possible. They are sentient beings, just as we are. If you don't have any compassion for them, maybe try to generate some. More compassion benefits everyone, and you will feel happier too.

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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby Mojo » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:32 pm

manas wrote:I would still invite you to put yourself in their place; try to imagine how they might feel, even if you don't believe in rebirth. Yes insects do feel both pleasure and pain. Even insects should be treated with respect whenever possible. They are sentient beings, just as we are. If you don't have any compassion for them, maybe try to generate some. More compassion benefits everyone, and you will feel happier too.

:anjali:


I've gone vegetarian 4 times in my life, about a year each. I prefer meat in my diet.

Back to the topic, I'm pretty sure that if as a global community, we went insectavorian that much of the insect supply would come from factory farms not the wild, just as is the case with meat.
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Re: Can eating insects save the world?

Postby manas » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:18 pm

Mojo wrote:
manas wrote:I would still invite you to put yourself in their place; try to imagine how they might feel, even if you don't believe in rebirth. Yes insects do feel both pleasure and pain. Even insects should be treated with respect whenever possible. They are sentient beings, just as we are. If you don't have any compassion for them, maybe try to generate some. More compassion benefits everyone, and you will feel happier too.

:anjali:


I've gone vegetarian 4 times in my life, about a year each. I prefer meat in my diet.

Back to the topic, I'm pretty sure that if as a global community, we went insectavorian that much of the insect supply would come from factory farms not the wild, just as is the case with meat.


Mojo, I never said you need to become a vegetarian! I was simply inviting you to reconsider this attitude:

Mojo wrote:I'm not particularly concerned about the suffering of something killed in the name of food.


But as you said, back to topic. I'm glad to hear you do not do any actual killing yourself, that's good.

So finally: sorry if I gave any impression that I was judging you for your diet. I wasn't. Buddhists are allowed to eat meat, so long as they did not kill or order it to be killed themselves.

Anyway, back to the topic of insects as food for humanity saving the world, then :P

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