GUEST OPINION: Community, Sustainability, Prosperity by Hoiyin Ip

Are You Bugged?

I never hesitated to kill a bug or an insect. There was some kind of heroism in it. Then,  a few years ago, I heard Karma Lekshe Tsomo, a Buddhist nun and professor at University of San Diego, elegantly talk about living in peace with nature, and I stopped the killing.

These days, have you noticed bugs and insects are setting a new trend?

According to the New York Times, “There are several qualities that may make insects attractive to consumers. They pack a lot of protein and other nutrients per ounce, more than beef and some other protein sources. And they get good marks from a sustainability and climate perspective—they convert feed to protein very efficiently, use little water and produce only tiny amounts of greenhouse gases. (Unlike cattle, insects emit little to no methane.)” Sounds like a tofu pitch . . .

From the Orange County Fair, Daily Pilot reported on the Cooking with Bugs event by Chef Daniella Malfitano and Aly Moore of Bugible. The lime-flavored crickets and barbecue-flavored Chirps Chips tasted “good and ‘sunflower seedy.’ ” According to Moore, “Scorpions taste like ‘really good salmon jerky.’ Other critters taste like oregano, ketchup, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or even crab meat.” Last but not least: “Should the mood strike the next time you’re browsing for a new wine to try, though, consider a peppery syrah paired with some black ants.” I’m up for any kind of syrah pairing!

I went back to the New York Times article to see what is conveniently available. “[Seek Food] sells cricket granola and other snacks, but it also sells flour mixes. . . . [Bread with ground-up cricket] had a decent texture. I brought it to the office so my Climate colleagues could try it with butter and jam. It was actually pretty tasty.”

Maybe you’re less adventurous, but you can still be trendy. Eat honey. The farmers market has honey from Oceanside. Some friends swear by local honey as an allergy remedy. Ramakrishna Monastery in Trabuco Canyon sells honey from its own beehives, but limits purchases to two bottles per customer due to high demand.

This month, my investigation on the trend got me to a book called Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects. An excerpt: “In Adolf Hitler’s Germany, [bee] research was nearly brought to a halt when it had barely begun. In the 1930s, when [Karl von Frisch, a future Nobel Prize winner] was working at the University of Munich, Hitler sympathizers scoured the university’s employee roster to root out Jewish workers. When Frisch’s maternal grandmother proved to have been Jewish, he was fired. But he was rescued by a tiny parasite—one that caused a disease in bees that was in the process of wiping out Germany’s bee population. Beekeepers and colleagues managed to persuade the Nazi leadership that Frisch’s future research was crucial if German beekeeping were to be rescued. The country was at war and in dire need of all and any foodstuffs farming could produce. A collapse of the honeybee population was unthinkable. Thus, Frisch was able to carry on his research, for the good of both bee knowledge and Frisch’s career.” No killing!

Another excerpt: “Life would be impossible without [bugs and insects]. . . . The fruit fly was essential to medical and biological research experiences that resulted in six Nobel Prizes. Blowfly larvae can clean difficult wounds; mealworms can digest plastic; ants have been essential to the development of antibiotics. Insects turn dead plants and animals into soil. They pollinate flowers, including crops that we depend on. They provide food for other animals, such as birds and bats. They control pests that are harmful to humans. Life as we know it depends on these small creatures. But recent years have brought disturbing reports of extensive declines in insect numbers and diversity, which would have serious consequences for us and the planet.”

Now one more tip on being part of the trend: say no to pesticides—for bugs, insects and us. According to Non Toxic Communities, an increasing number of cities and counties have organic landscaping policies and programs, including Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Costa Mesa and Laguna Hills. Let’s bug Dana Point!

Hoiyin Ip is often recognized on the street as the plastic lady for her cleanup work. But she likes to think of herself as a guardian of the ocean. She is often reminded of a quote by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”

About The Author Dana Point Times

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