(PNS reporting from BOCA RATON) Americans can stretch their dwindling food budgets and broaden their taste horizons if they’d only consider eating more insects, rats and vermin, according to Uncle Sam.
That’s the message from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which today released a report on the nutritional value of more than 700 common insects, reptiles, rodents, amphibians and spiders.
The report, Let Them Eat Snake: The Nutritional Benefits of Insects, Vermin and Household Pests, hopes to “broaden American perspectives on food in the 21st Century.”
While initial response has been one of alarm, the FDA is assuring the public that the report does not signal any pending problems with the food supply.
“There’s no reason to fear, we just want people to know that the food pyramid has a basement, and that basement is full of pests,” said FDA spokesperson Enrique Guacala.
The report points out that there are already more than 500 species of insects consumed by people throughout the world, most of which are pure protein.
“There are a lot of positives to eating pests,” says Guacala. “There are billions of them, they’ll come to you, and most pests are organic, which is good. Plus, insects are great for a low-carb diet.”
In addition to bringing American tastes in line with international cuisine, the report suggests the United States already has a long tradition of eating pests.
“Let’s be honest, the Pilgrims were eating rats in the winter of 1621, and George Washington was known to eat flies. With this report, we’re recovering a patriotic part of our heritage. This is as American as apple pie.”
According to the report, almost 40% of edible insects are found in the Americas, and major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago are teeming with potential food sources:
It’s a no-brainer. They’re already there. This could revolutionize urban farmer’s markets and turn New York into America’s pest-basket. This is literally a moveable feast.
Conspiracy blogs are slamming the report, claiming the 1% would never eat vermin. There are also rumors that Monsanto has been experimenting with genetically modified insects for years.
Guacala denies the allegations.
“Trust me, the last thing we need are genetically-modified roaches,” he said, and added that American Jews who “keep kosher” can enjoy Biblically-approved grasshoppers for lunch.
In order to appeal to popular tastes, the report includes a 100-page illustrated cookbook, which is organized alphabetically and includes numerous ethnic dishes, such as Congolese Crispy Caterpillar, Papua Pupa Pops, Chinese Fried Lice, Jamaican Mosquito Pie and the Denver grasshopper dish Chapulin Colorado.
“The cookbook is very thorough, and by the time you get to the chapter on ‘Salads, Sandwiches, Soups and Sausages,’ your horizons will definitely be expanded,” said Guacala.
The Let Them Eat Snake cookbook includes reptiles that are already part of the American diet, such as rattlesnake and alligator. And while it includes numerous rodents ranging from beavers to wharf rats, the FDA was careful to omit bats.
“Although nutritionally sound, we did not include bats, because not only do they carry rabies, scientists consider them to be the porpoises of the rodent family,” said Guacala.
The report also features instructions for how to farm and collect pests, and includes a coupon for a handy device called a roachtisserie — manufactured by the George Foreman Grill Company – which is a cross between a roach motel and a Jiffy Pop® pan.
In related news, McDonald’s released a statement confirming that it has included “grey slime,” a potpourri of mealworms and grubs, in its hamburgers since 2005.
Click here to download the section on “Edible Forest Insects.”
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