I’ll Have The Balut, Please

I recently read Dana Goodyear’s book, Anything That Moves. The book focuses mainly on the rising “foodie” culture in America, and how a shift in the way we eat may be coming. This blog post is inspired by this book.

Check out The New York Times Sunday Book Review for a bit more on the book.

Talk to most people, and the mention of eating a mostly-formed ostrich fetus doesn’t sound all that appetizing. Oh, and it’s still in the egg. Balut, it’s called, and it’s quickly rising in popularity amongst foodies. It might sound like something from an episode of Fear Factor, but the foodies might be on to something. Sure, balut may not catch on with the general public, but it might open the door to saving our environment.

Foodies are part of a strange subculture of people. They walk amongst us, seemingly the same as the rest of the population, but inside they’re dreaming of ant eggs and deep-fried crickets (yes, both wildly popular in the foodie world!) Foodies are always looking for the next best thing in food. This means alternative protein sources, or ways of recycling the odd bits of animals that most people would just throw away. They can turn pig’s feet into a delicacy, and sheep tail into dessert. In this lies the key to saving our environment. Turning to these alternative protein sources and recycling our food waste significantly lessens our impact on the planet.

Ask any environmentalist why you should switch to a vegetarian diet and I can guarantee the answer will be that the cattle farming industry is ruining our atmosphere. What with the methane emissions from the cows and the land use impacts associated with grazing animals, environmentalists will love to tell you that livestock farming does more harm than good.

So let’s give them something else to chew on, shall we? Take the weird food crazes that foodies have discovered, and show the world that there are other types of protein. Demonstrate that deep-fried centipedes have fewer methane emissions than grazing cattle. A transition to these alternative protein sources will alleviate some of the pressure on common livestock agriculture, and reduce the impact from that part of the industry. Plus, the more people who buy into the foodie culture means that weird things like balut will become more mainstream and easier to find, which will further stimulate the transition to these alternative sources.

You don’t have to stray away from animal products just to lessen your impact on the environment. Just get a little creative with your food. As for me, I’ll still be enjoying my beef stew every Sunday afternoon. A little bit of jabbering from activists about methane emissions won’t stop me from eating “traditional” meats. But for those of you who are looking to try something new, with a hidden environmental twist, check out the foodie world. Who knows, maybe an ostrich fetus in its shell really does taste good.

Emma — The Suburban Aggie

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