I got your food chain right here: please pass the crickets

With all the time on our hands lately, we have the opportunity to check out the old homestead to see how long the cracks in our walls have grown. Do we need to take action here? No, although we have the time, we don’t have the incentive. Trudging through the seemingly endless days we look for things to do.

We’re digging deep and uncovering some products in the cupboard which have use by dates that are older than our cat. We’re discovering ‘gold’ in the innermost reaches of our pantries as we pluck a tiny jar of artichoke bruschetta destined for that meal in a minute appetizer. People are discovering jars of Smucker’s Jelly stuck for the past 2 years on the back of the top shelf of the fridge. At least there’s some emergency food we can avail ourselves of. That’s the good news. Let’s now take a look at how our food chain IS being protected from harm by those who care.

Part 110.110 of the code of federal regulations allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no health hazard. (Or so they think/hope) For example, manufacturers can’t allow more than 225 bug parts in 225 grams. That’s almost 8 ounces of pasta. (No clue of how many insects constitute 225 bug parts) That factors out to a bug part per gram of food. Are they asking the question ‘which part of an insect (Not ‘bug,’ they’re different than insects) would you eat? Could they then separate those parts from the, shall we say, tasty parts? Is there a tasty part?

How are these things counted? Are they counted? Has federal oversight left town and taken the rules with them? How can we be sure there’s a government worker sitting along the pasta line checking for rat balls in the spaghetti? Is really good eyesight a pre-requisite for that job? Microscope? So, there are questions and questions.

Fact check: “crickets and other insects are an excellent and common source of protein in other parts of the world” says Marvin Lipman MD, Consumer Reports Chief Medical Advisor. Consumer Reports article on Weird Foods Worth Trying moves our attention away from the best garden implement values for the summer. Specifically, they tested cricket flour. They tell you that you can’t taste an actual cricket in there, but if you know it’s in there wouldn’t you think the FDA is full of s#&t (245,450 parts per million). If you want me to have my protein, don’t tell me where it comes from! If I want cricket parts, I’ll go to Japan and cruise the local Golden Corral buffet. In other parts of the world some people can’t just walk into a fresh market and choose dinner, they have to catch it. And we thought the non-toxic starch-based paste we ate in Kindergarten was a quick healthy snack.

A few years ago, two Australian government workers were dealing with a huge locust swarm devastating their farm crops. They encouraged residents to eat, not kill, the flying insects they called sky prawns and produced a recipe book to make it sound more appealing. Locusts are just grasshoppers in a breeding frenzy, and insects like these are arthropods just like their cousins, the shrimp, prawn and lobster, so how far from your dinner plate is that?

Truth in advertising lesson: The Little Debbie® billboards that prominently say Unwrap a Smile may not mean what they say. If truth in advertising were the law, it would have to say for your afternoon rush, unwrap some sugar disguised as food and come back for more. I think the lesson is clear. As Mary Poppins sang, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” or in this case, the crickets.

Buzz Fleischman is a Humorist and singer/songwriter of ‘irregular songs for regular people’ and a character actor who has appeared in and voiced TV commercials and radio. He currently hosts and produces the Joltradio.org interview show “On the Record and Off the Wall’.  http://www.joltradio.org/artist/on-the-record-and-off-the-wall-with-buzz-fleischman

Buzz was the humorist on the NPR affiliate WLRN for 12 years and has been a featured speaker for significant local and national conferences, conventions and organizations. He is a docent at the Curtiss Mansion and is fascinated by the history of Miami Springs and its interesting residents. http://www.theradiobuzz.com



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