In the news recently I heard about how we should eat bugs. That’s right. The food supply will need to double by 2050 to keep up with the population growth. And, we all know that bugs replicate fast! Well, I about lost my breakfast when reading that suggestion.
Still, 3 billion people already subsist on bugs and they find them quite yummy so maybe there is hope that we won’t starve. Besides, many of us already eat far uglier stuff (clams, Rocky Mountain Oysters). So, get over it! Bug soufflés are most likely in your future.
What concerns me is this: what happens to 4H animals? In a town like mine, kids raise and fret over their 4H show animals throughout the spring and summer months. What a joy to see cows, pigs, sheep, and goats nurtured and pampered for the competition at the country fair. Training includes taming and teaching an animal how to walk properly around a show ring. On fair day, the contestants are shampooed, brushed, and slicked out to 4H perfection.
The kids work hard to display their animal for the judges and all of us giddy adults in the audience. On sale night, the animals are dressed up in tutus and scarves to lure prospective buyers.
With cows and pigs possibly taking a back seat to crickets and meal worms in the food chain, the bugs will become the new 4H stars. Each spring, crickets will be carefully hatched and meal worms bred from only the finest of meal worm genetic stock. Rather than end up as feed for the old show chickens, these bugs will be the center of attention, competing now for blue and purple ribbons. Oh, for a best of show grasshopper ribbon!
The transition won’t be easy though. Where will the kids find little cricket-sized combs and tutus? And what about bath time? A little carelessness, and the whole meal worm team will go down the drain. Leashes will need to be carefully crafted from silk fibers, and let us hope their 6 buggy legs don’t get all tangled up during the show.
There will be, however, some good trade offs when bugs replace bovine and swine competitors at the County Fair. You won’t need huge stalls that have to be carefully cleaned every day. Transportation is easy too, just punch a few holes in a box and toss the eager competitors in your back pack. Whatever food the darling show insects need can be easily managed as well.
Still, I expect at sale time there will be tears. After months of bonding with your cricket it will still hurt to see a buyer slip out the back door headed to the bug processing plant with your pride and joy bug. The kids can take comfort once again knowing that next spring will come around fast and new and better show bugs are in their future.