Sir ate my Hamster*

*Scorpion actually

Scorpion on newspaper

Bug eating bugs me. In the latest round of lesson observations in the academy I work at, a teacher was applauded for achieving an ‘outstanding’ humanities lesson on ‘the future of food’ by tapping it off with the theatrical consumption of a deep-fried scorpion. Hilarious. Disgusting too. I have issues with this for a number of reasons.

Theatrical performances for formal observations. Is this how we normally teach? Would we put on a show for Ofsted (should we)? I am as guilty as the next person for ramping it up when there are visitors, especially those I don’t know so well. I don’t agree with the pressure it puts on staff or the grading that most schools still do despite Ofsted apparently no longer doing so. Where does it lead? To dramatic risk taking and eating insects.

Insects are the future of food. This idea has been knocking about for the past decade or so and is obviously mentioned in the syllabus somewhere. There was yet another Guardian article recently  but this is mostly sensationalist, headline grabbing and vegan-baiting. It works. The truth about insects as ‘future’ food is far from straight forward. This article has reappeared annually in various guises since 2013. From the sushification argument (adapting to unusual food trends) to the latest sustainability incarnation arguing for protein production involving less water and land. The facts are that bugs are already consumed around the world, usually in the far east, parts of Africa and notably indigenous Australia but are culturally sensitive and carry a significant yuck factor. Scorpions for example are found in North Africa but considered haraam by moslems and not consumed. Introduction to a western diet has to bridge that barrier as well as be physically air freighted to Europe and the States also negating the sustainability argument. Home grown insects? Heating bills, space and opportunity may be forthcoming but highly doubtful. Is there a demand even after 10 years of propaganda? Nutritionally, the argument goes that they are a low calorie source of high protein. You would need to swallow at least 10 medium scorpions to match the protein of a tin of lentils; is this really likely? Lentils can be adapted into traditional meals such as cottage pie or lasagne – scorpions in your pasta? Nah. Low calorie isn’t a good thing for everyone and we tend to overconsume protein unnecessarily too (unless you’re bodybuilding). Twenty to forty grammes are recommended daily; that may be 10 scorpions, a bowl full of meal worms or a palm sized portion of tofu or beans. I would counter that with the growth of veganism in the UK up to 3.5 million people, then veggies are the future of food not bugs.

Further reading:

Insects could be the key to meeting the food needs of growing global population – 1st August 2010 The Guardian

Edible insects (and arachnids) – 16th September 2011 The Guardian

Beetlemania: should we all be eating insects? 13th September 2013 The Guardian

Picture this: insects on the menu 9th December 2014 The Guardian

Insects should be part of a sustainable diet in the future – 5th November 2015 The Guardian

Would you eat insects to save the planet? 18th October 2018 The Guardian

Grub’s up: roasted crickets to go on sale – 13th May 2019 The Guardian


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