What FoodAnthro is Reading, January 17 Edition

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Do you have items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

First, we thought it would be fun to point to Culture and Agriculture’s Readings, because they have a lovely Wendell Berry poem and because, after all, eating is an agricultural act.

At this, the last week of Obama’s presidency, we thought you might like to read this article about the impact of Obamacare for restaurant workers:

Only 14 percent of restaurant employees receive benefits from their employers. You either need to marry someone with benefits, or go without. This is a very physical industry that causes a lot more damage than just cuts and burns — bad backs, bone spurs, pinched nerves, slipped discs. And then there are worst-case scenarios, which always happen to somebody else, until you remember that to everyone you know, that somebody else is you.

Nutella is bearing the brunt of anti-palm oil sentiment. The anti-palm oil sentiment seems quite well-founded, at least from an environmental perspective, but the question of why Nutella has been chosen as the specific scapegoat is an interesting one.

If we shouldn’t be eating Nutella, what are we to do? Eat insects, obviously! (sorry, I know that’s not really a smooth or appropriate transition). When The Conversation had a recent fairly in-depth view of insect eating in Africa, it felt like an opportunity to look at recent articles on the subject. From Nikassi and Ekesi, insect researchers:

But people living in Africa have never considered edible insects as pests or a nuisance. Perhaps we need to think of a new appellation for edible insects to kill the disgust factor. A simple language analogy between 30 ethnic groups in 12 sub-Saharan countries provided tentative names for edible termites. These are, “Tsiswa”, “Chiswa”, “Chintuga”, “Inswa”, “Iswa”, “Sisi”, “Ishwa” or “Esunsun”. Any of these indigenous names could be used to market termite based products.

A little over the three years ago, the FAO released their report on the potential of insects as food for humans and animals, it led to quite a bit of talk on the subject. From their report, it was clear that the barriers to insect farming and eating outside of the tropics are not just related to the disgust factor, but also to the ways that insects live and breed in the tropics, where they tend to be freely available. Last year, Syngenta’s Thought for Food awarded first prize to a group that focused on the potential of insects as food. An article in The Guardian encouraged us to put insects on the Christmas menu, and as is often the case, the comments section is great food anthro reading. If you are in the U.S., did you know that you could get 36 different cricket flour products from Amazon? And lastly, a most recent story on eating insects: if you’re in North America, you may also be able to watch a recently released documentary, Bugs at the theatre.

Of course, there are other important, and perhaps overwhelming, things happening in North America at the moment, and we’d love to spend more time processing how the incoming president will affect food policy. If you have articles to share, please let us know!

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