EAT BUGS: Monetary incentives distort our perceptions of what's good for us


#1

[Read the post]


The no-fly list really is a no-brainer
#2

#3

I’m a little confused… What are the empirical downsides to eating bugs?

The only downside I can think of is “eeew, bugs”

They’re practically the healthiest animal protein source, are cheap and efficient to farm, and if you grind them up into meal you can make all kinds of good stuff.


#4

Also: Money is good for us.


#5

There are countless examples. Here’s one:

The larvae of leaf beetles often employ fecal shields, masses of feces that they carry on their bodies to repel predators.

Have at it.


#6

#NotAllBugs

But seriously, they’re no grosser than eating veal. Or prawns, shrimp, crawdads, crabs and lobsters for that matter. Those are just bugs that live underwater as far as I can tell. Except they’re distinctly fishy in taste. Which is a flavor I can’t handle.

Crickets, ants, termites on the other hand? I’ve actually eaten those and like them. And anyway, the condiments make the meal.


#7

That’s plenty for me. If it doesn’t work for you, you can have my share. (I might feel differently in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where the choice is between eating bugs or my own offspring.)


#8

Remember how enthusiastically Max ate that lizard? Lizards are like walking food! You just gotta practice “safe food handling.”


#9

I’ve eaten those as well, also meal worms.

I’m all for utilizing these food sources as they can thrive off of our HUGE food waste and convert that waste back into human usable calories. Same with fungi and yeasts, we could use a lot more fungi to convert food waste back into food.

I agree that anyone who says shrimp yum, crickets ewwww, has a selection bias and could just as easily have those notions flipped in an alternate scenario where they had been fed the reverse as a gourmet foodstuff. It will take more for some people to get over this preconception then others, likely tasting one delicious dish, and their brain will go…oh i do like this, refile under yum.


#10

Do you have offspring? Asking because I do, and these days I don’t think that would be too hard of a decision.


#11

Yea, he’s big enough to kick my ass, but I’m a lot more devious.


#12

Well, two different thoughts here.

First, on the article, that sounds pretty typical for how we behave cognitively. Once we make a decision the process of rationalization begins. (Though in some ways that’s not precisely the order). It’s nice to see it get more support though, especially in such a fun way to describe to others.

On the conversation and the bug-eating…the one thing on that topic that drives me crazy is 'why do we have to choose the maximum gross-out route???’. Most people don’t see precisely where their chicken nuggets come from, they don’t watch cows getting slaughtered, and we’re honestly amazingly distant from most of our food production.

If insects were simply turned into unidentifiable ingredients (protein for shakes and such, energy bars, whatever) then it’s not that different from what we already do, and it wouldn’t be any effort to shift the next generation to a new source of proteins.

Popping a bug in your mouth should be treated as if it’s just as weird as trying to gnaw the head off of a live chicken. We don’t have to do that sort of thing anymore, we have this thing called technology.


#13

If you assume species that have no toxins, have been cleanly kept, are properly prepared… none.

Subjectively, though, there’s still some issues with taste and texture (especially if you’re talking about raw, whole ones like in this study) that many people have trouble getting past.


#14

Head-on shrimp creep me out. I can eat them and admit they taste the same as more aesthetically pleasing shrimp, but with the head on, I immediately think to myself, “They’re house centipedes that live in water.”

Same with lobster, they are related to roaches and beetles in much the same way marine mammals are related to terrestrial species. So my being grossed out is at least scientifically accurate. I’ll still eat them, but there is a non-small part of me that has to either forget or fixate.


#15


#16

As a kid I picked up a grasshopper and it pooped on me (for lack of a better term) as a self-defense. I couldn’t wash the smell away and it took hours to fade. I’d be pretty nervous about eating one of those. I guess crickets are not packed with disgusting fluid, but I wouldn’t be in a good position to tell the difference. TL:DR; I would be willing to try food that other people actually eat as food, but if someone just dared me to eat a bug, I would not be interested.

Then again, in a psych experiment like this one I would know they weren’t feeding me anything hazardous and I’d be feigning refusal in order to extract the maximum payout. I don’t know how much of a problem this is.


#17

locusts are a traditional food in a number of countries.

i totally agree that preparation is key to acceptance. if someone is handed a whole chicken (feathers, feet, head) they most likely wouldn’t just dig in, but a bucket of extra crispy is an entirely different thing.

At first insects will be most successful in food products that don’t resemble or indicate the contents are insects. Like adding protein to crackers. Once they are accepted and appreciated for what they are we’ll be able to order dishes that maximize their uniqueness and feature them like kung-pow extra spicy crickets.


#18

I guess that’s the point I was really trying to make: if someone says, “Hey, eat this bug” that’s sort of like asking me to just bite into a trout fresh out of the lake. I’d be fine eating bugs, but I’d need to at least have confidence that the person serving them to me knew what they were doing.


#19

Naturally, these rules are hotly debated, especially among economists, who generally assume that markets of informed buyers and sellers produce outcomes that make everyone better off.

If only we had a market of informed buyers and sellers to test this idea. The existence of marketing and advertising is the proof that they don’t exists. Any theory based on that assumption is not applicable to the real world. Any economic policy based on that assumption is bad policy. Anyone calling him or herself an “economists” while trying to have this kind of policy implemented in the real world is either not an economist, or a liar with an agenda, or maybe both.


#20

I’ll get right on that. But would you prefer a hollandaise, bechamel, or just BBQ sauce?