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Welcome to the www.food-insects.com web site.

New Additions
October 2006

  1. In a year of highs and lows, the site editor celebrates 80th birthday
    Read more...
  1. One of the lows was a bout with stenosis, resulting in reduced punctuality in answering emails
    (Read more...
  1. A message from the east coast jungles of the Big Island of Hawaii
    Read more...
  1. David Gracer introduces Sunrise Land Shrimp, a new company specializing in edible insects
    Read more...
  1. A communication from B. Adamolekun, MD, neurologist at Johns Hopkins University, regarding the link between Anaphe venata and a seasonal ataxic syndrome in Nigeria
    Read more...
  1. Dr. Kenneth Ruddle informs us that he has uncovered a small stack of mint-condition reprints of his 1973 article, "The human use of insects" [food use by the Yukpa of Colombia], published in Biotropica
    Read more...
  1. A communication from Clive Lau, Senior Agricultural Officer working for the Hong Kong Government, with taxonomic corrections to the Regional Inventory for Eastern Asia in our on-line book New Additions August 2006
    Read more...

 

Item 1) Site Editor Celebrates 80th Birthday!

The Year 2005 was a year of highs and lows for the site editor, and in summarizing it I am drawing on last years' Christmas letter to relatives and friends. I am famous among those relatives and friends for sending overly long Christmas letters, and last years' letter was a record-breaker, a full two-pager. The high of highs was a big 80th Birthday Celebration in June, conceived, organized and carried out by my "kids," David, Sharon, and Linda, all of whom are now over 40 years of age and live a long way from Madison. The party was outdoors at Quivey's Grove, a restaurant noted for its rural charm, on the southern outskirts of Madison, with well over 100 in attendance, all of them from Madison or nearby except for my family members. For whatever reason, everybody seemed to arrive in a celebratory mood and things went from there. Son David and family were here from the Virginia-Washington, D.C. area, Sharon and one of her two daughters were here from Maine, Linda and husband from Alaska, my sister Jessa Dean Scott, her two sons and two friends, all from Arkansas, my sister-in-law Liz Erickson from Wyoming, and her daughter from Utah. Unfortunately, one son-in-law (from Maine) and my two college-age granddaughters, were unable to attend. Son David emceed the program, I did some very interesting reminiscing and didn't go on for too long according to several people who were asked. Linda did a nice thing when she thanked everybody there for taking such good care of Dad after Mom died. Afterward, Sharon put together a fabulous book of photographs, which now rests on an end-table in my living room and which every now and often I pick up and thumb through a few pages.

In closing this summary of the party, I am reusing the same words used in closing my remarks there, as I think these words are very appropriate for almost anyone looking back on 80 years:

"And finally, in really closing, I want to quote a short paragraph from Hillary Clinton's new book, 'Living History.' I've repeatedly mentioned 'wisdom' here today, and I started reading her book shortly after I had started trying to put together the photographic story of my 80 years, which is on the tables over there. I think you will see why I was so impressed with her insight:

'For each chapter, there were more ideas I wanted to discuss than space allowed; more people to include than could be named; more places visited than could be described. If I mentioned everybody who has impressed, inspired, taught, influenced and helped me along the way, this book would be several volumes long. Although I've had to be selective, I hope that I've conveyed the push and pull of events and relationships that affected me and continue to shape and enrich my world today.'

I thank you all for coming."

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Item 2) But There Were Also Some Lows

The low of lows was October 1 when I was felled suddenly by what was diagnosed later at Meriter Hospital as a stenosis. I was planning to go that Saturday morning at 9:OO a.m. to a sixth grade football game with a good friend whose grandson was playing. About an hour before game time I called my friend and told her I might be headed in the opposite direction, toward Meriter Hospital emergency room. She drove me to the ER, where I was kept for 6 days, then sent over to Oakwood nursing facility for 13 days before being sent home. The stenosis, in my case, was a narrowing of the spinal canal resulting in pinched nerves affecting my right leg. Let me say it was a painful experience, the pain never completely letting up the first 6 weeks despite continuous medication. I did physical therapy while at Oakwood and as an outpatient for a couple of weeks after leaving, but recovery has been a slow process, especially when mixed with other health problems that have developed in the past few years as I've gotten older - allergies, edema, congestive heart failure (I think that doctors tell most everybody over 75 that they have congestive heart failure).

There were many other highs and lows the past year but of lesser magnitude than the two described.

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Item 3) Message from Hawaii

Subject: Aloha & Mehalo
From: Gwenette
Date: Tue., 14 June 2005

Aloha from the east coast jungles of the Big Island of Hawaii,

I do hope you are well and still with us…
Our community is very interested in the work you have done. It has contributed immensely to our education about alternative high protein, wholesome, readily available foods.

We send a sincere “Mahalo” (thank you) to you for the time you generously offered compiling your informative website.

If you or your family or students are ever visiting our island, please feel free to contact me. You all would be welcome guests.

Blessings, Gwenette
Pahao, HI

After an exchange of emails that included a letter of thanks from me, I wrote to Gwenette, dated September 5, asking permission to reprint her email of June 15 on the website. The most pertinent part of my request was "…Your email was an inspiration to me. I am sure it would be an inspiration also for others who are working to make insect-derived foods more widely available." Permission was graciously given.

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Item 4) David Gracer describes his new company

WELCOME TO SUNRISE LAND SHRIMP

This company, founded in March 2005, is my effort to advocate for entomophagy in the United States and beyond - those interested will find contact information at the bottom of this writing. I chose "Sunrise" because the development of this subject is analogous to a new day dawning, and “Land Shrimp" because insects are to the land what crustaceans are to the sea.

The cultural exportation of, for want of a better term, Industrialized-food-source-bias has long been damaging not only the personal health and food security of billions of people, but also global ecology itself. Eating insects is a logical, elegant, and intelligent solution to world hunger, which, along with overpopulation, is among the worst problems bedeviling humanity. Any opportunity to combat this food bias at its source is worthy work.

These are the goals of SLS:

Educational. SLS seeks venues for presentations on the uses of insects [particularly culinary uses] in human culture around the world. These presentations are multimedia and could definitely include the preparation and serving of insects to the public, i.e. crickets/mealworms and certain Thai specialties locally available.

Commercial. SLS seeks suppliers of processed edible insects from around the world [and, tangentially, other exotic foods, particularly those that have advantages over the standard food sources - cow/pig/chicken/sheep/goat and corn/wheat/rice/soybean – and might be considered 'traditional' and/or 'sustainable'].

SLS is particularly interested in, but not limited to, small business partnerships with individuals. SLS has customers ready to purchase processed edible insects.

Developmental. SLS seeks capital to develop new sources and markets for insects in a variety of capacities, including but not necessarily only food for people and other animals.

These agendas are planned simultaneously. SLS is not interested in sensationalizing the practice of entomophagy, as has been a pattern in several popular television programs. Our work comes out of plain common sense - and, perhaps, a sense of adventure and fun.

New Projects

The Montana Project:
I have started plans with Mr. Mark Rehder, an organic farm in Montana who reports that grasshopper harvests of 100 pounds per hour are possible. While gathering this largesse is intriguing, the prospect of cultivation makes even more sense. We are currently seeking capital and other resources that would allow us to best make use of a huge amount of grasshoppers.

Grasshoppers (and orthopterans in general) are probably the single most utilized food-insect worldwide. There is a particularly robust tradition of this practice in Pre-Columbian Mexican cuisine, and grasshoppers are enthusiastically consumed in Mexico to this day. The owner of a Mexican restaurant in Providence, RI, has told me that if I can secure a reliable supply of grasshoppers, he would put them on the menu. This is an exciting prospect, and might attract the attention of that specific restaurant industry. I am also interested in processing the grasshoppers into insect flour for high-protein baked goods. It could possibly be a model for a new paradigm in locust-related famine response.

Human consumption itself is hardly the only option. Other markets include: pet and zoo animal; fish, poultry, and possibly hog feed, and even fish bait and fertilizer.

Rhynchophorus in Peru:
The so-called "Sago grub" (the larva of Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, a species of weevil) is one of the most renowned edible insects; some people have traveled all the way to Papua New Guinea in order to sample it. Slightly less well known is the fact that this species (and several others in the genus) are both cherished as food items and despised as agricultural pests. These include R. phoenicis in Africa, and R. palmarum and R. cruentatus in the Americas.

I've been in touch with Mr. Manuel Miranda of Amazon Insects regarding "suris" the local name for R. palmurum larva. Mr. Miranda has discovered live suris sold as food in the marketplace in Lima. We have been in discussion regarding the best way to process, package, and export this food product. In the meantime he reports that he's been keeping them in his apartment, the better to observe their feeding habits and metamorphosis.

From China:
In early September 2005 I received a package mailed by an American teaching English in Yantai, China. The pre-packaged food consisted of vacuum-packed silkworm pupae. There were also jars of caterpillars (of a Sphigind species, probably Clanis bilineata); scorpions (probably Buthnus martensii); and cicada nymphs. These were purchased fresh in the marketplace, the caterpillars and scorpions were cooked and preserved in honey, while the cicadas were sent dry.

My contact reports that these products, though seasonal, are readily available in the marketplace. He urged me to learn about the process by which they could be officially brought into the U.S. as the delicacies they are considered to be in China.

The Mopane quest [and a proposed safari to Southern African countries]:
The consumption of caterpillars is common throughout much of the world, particularly in Africa. Many species are consumed there, but few approach the ubiquity of the Mopane [or Mopani] worm, the larvae of Gonimbrasia belina, a Saturnid moth, which is harvested in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and probably other countries.

I have been most interested in obtaining dried or possibly canned mopane worms; to this end I've sent several hundred emails, to no avail. I've learned that considerable amounts of mopane are exported to France and Belgium (from which country[ies] I have not been able to determine) but there is no exportation to the U.S., and this should change.

In a separate matter, I have recently begun plans with a safari company located in the U.S. concerning a tour to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. This tour would include several entomology- and entomophangy-related activities, including night-lighting and visits to both a mopane harvest and to the Kalahari Bushmen, who use the fluids from a beetle larva to poison arrow-tips for hunting. There would of course be other places and subjects, including Victoria Falls and several opportunities to see charismatic megafauna.

Indeed anyone interested in contributing to this brave new world of ecologically-sound and culturally-significant food production should feel free to step forward. There is much to be done.

For further information:
David M. Gracer
Sunrise Land Shrimp
22 Exeter Street
Providence, RI 02906
401.272.1165
dave@slshrimp.com or http://www.slshrimp.com

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Item 5) Seasonal ataxic syndrome in Nigeria

Dear Professor Defoliart,

I am a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, with research experience in entomophagy and neuroepidemiology. I wish to congratulate you on your online book on entomophagy. Its breadth and depth is amazing and it is undoubtedly the "bible" of entomophagy.

The earlier part of my work showing a link between anaphe venata entomophagy and a seasonal ataxic syndrome was referred to in chapter 20 (Nigeria), with a comment by Prof. Akingboungbe expressing doubts about the link. Since then we have published several papers confirming that the seasonal ataxia is a thiamine deficiency state caused by putative heat stable thiaminases in the anaphe venata larvae. These studies include a double blind placebon-controlled trial of thiamine in this syndrome. The syndrome has now been eradicated by health education discouraging the consumption of the anaphe larvae by the vulnerable low income populations. Definitive laboratory proof has been provided by workers in Japan, who, based on my studies demonstrated that the anaphe venata species indeed contained heat stable thiaminases. That was the first report of thiaminases in insects.

I hope that this information will be useful to you as you complete the last chapter of your book regarding the adverse effects of entomophagy. I attach a list of references relevant to this issue.
Please contact me for any other information.

With Best Regards.
B. Adamolekun, MD, FWACP

References on Epidemic seasonal ataxia

Adamolekun B. Anaphe venata entomophagy and seasonal ataxic syndrome in southwest Nigeria. Lancet. 1993 Mar 6; 341(8845): 629.

Adamolekun B., Adamolekun WE, Sonibare AD, Sofowora G. A double blind, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy of thiamine hydrochloride in a seasonal ataxia in Nigerians. Neurology. 1994 Mar; 44(3 Pt 1): 549-51.

Adamolekun B., Ibikunle FR. Investigation of an epidemic of seasonal ataxia in Ikare, western Nigeria. Acta Neurol Scand. 1994 Nov; 90(5): 309-11.

Adamolekun B., Ndububa DA. Epidemiology and clinical presentation of a seasonal ataxia in western Nigeria. J Neurol Sci. 1994 Jun; 124(1): 95-8.

Adamolekun B. Seasonal ataxia in western Nigeria: evaluation of the impact of health education on hospital prevalence. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1995 Oct; 49(5): 489-91.

Adamolekun B., McCandless DW, Butterworth RF. Epidemic of seasonal ataxia in following ingestion of the African silkworm Anaphe venata: role of thiamine deficiency? Metab Brain Dis. 1997 Dec; 12(4): 251-8.

Nishimune T., Watanabe Y., Okazaki H., Akai H. Thiamin is decomposed due to Anaphe spp. entomophagy in seasonal ataxia patients in Nigeria. J Nutr 2000 Jun; 130(6): 1625-8.

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Item 6) Reprint of an old classic available

Dr. Kenneth Ruddle recently, and unexpectedly, uncovered a small stack (about 30) of mint-condition reprints of his classic 1973 paper on the insect-feeding activities of the Yukpa of Colombia. The paper we are referring to is "The human use of insects," published in Biotropica 5(2):94-101, 1973, by Kenneth Ruddle. Dr. Ruddle is offering a copy free to anyone who would like a copy but would like recipients to pay the postage. Anyone interested can contact him at his private email address, mb5k-rddl@asahi-net.or.jp, and use it to pay the postage on PayPal. Postage for this to anywhere in the world is 5.00 US$.

Shortly after notifying us of the above, Dr. Ruddle (who has been in the process of a big move) reported finding copies of a couple of monographs related to the article on Yukpa insect use. These are:

Ruddle, Kenneth. 1974. The Yukpa Cultivation System: A Study of Shifting Cultivation in Colombia and Venezuela, Ibero-Americana #52. Berkeley: Univ. of Calif. Press, Paper cover, 197 pp. & 17 black/white illus. Index and b/w maps and diagrams. 8vo new (never opened). US$ 20.00 + 5$ mailing anywhere. 20 copies available.

Ruddle, Kenneth. 1978. El sistema de autosubsistencia de los indios. Yukpa. Caracas, Universidad Andres Bello, Paper cover, 144 pp. 8vo new (never opened). US$ 5.00 + 5$ mailing anywhere. 30 copies available.

All proceeds from these sales, according to Dr.Ruddle, will be donated to a guide dog training charity.

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Item 7) Taxonomic Corrections

Our thanks to Clive Lau for this communication dated November 12, 2002, with corrections to the Regional Taxonomic Inventory for Chapter 26, "Eastern Asia: China, Japan, Other Countries" in the on-line book (on this website) The Human Use of Insects as a Food Resource: A Bibliographic Account in Progress. Below, names needing correction are extracted from the Chapter 26 Inventory; corrections are in brackets to the right of each name corrected. Many of the corrections consist only of adding or deleting parentheses from the names of the authors of species, but there are also a number of synonymies, misspellings, etc.

Coleoptera

Cerambycidae (long horned beetles)
Cyrtotruchelus [Cyrtotrachelus] longimanus (author?) [Fabricius]
Rhynchophorus chinensis (author?) [No such species, possibly R. ferrugineus (Olivier)]

Dytiscidae (predaceous diving beetles)
Cybister bengalensis Aube [Aubé]
Cybister guerini Aube [Aubé]
Cybister limbatus Fabr. [(Fabr.)]
Cybister sugillatus Er. [Erichson]
Cybister tripunctatus Ol. [(Olivier)]
Dytiscus marginalis (author?) [Linnaeus]

Hydrophilidae (water scavenger beetles)
Hydrous [Hydrophilus] bilineatus MacLeay [(MacLeay)]
Hydrous [Hydrophilus] cavisternum Bedel [(Bedel)]
Hydrous [Hydrophilus] hastatus Herbst [(Herbst)]
Hydrous [Hydrophilus] pallidipalpis MacLeay [(MacLeay)]

Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles)
Scarabaeus [Catharsius] molossus Linn. [(Linn.)]

Family uncertain
Melanaster [Melanauster] [syn. of Anophlophora] chinensis Forster [(Forster)] Family Cerambycidae
Psacothea hilaris Pascoe [(Pascoe)] Family Cerambycidae

Diptera

Calliphoridae (blow flies)
Chrysomia [Chrysomya] megacephala (Fabr.)

Muscidae (filth flies)
Musca domestica vicina Macq. [= Musca domestica Linnaeus]

Hemiptera

Belostomatidae (giant water bugs)
Lethocerus indicus Lep. & Serv. [(Lepeletier & Serville)]

Pentatomidae (stink bugs)
Tessaratoma papillosa Drury [(Drury)]

Homoptera

Cicadidae (cicadas)
Graptopsaltria nigrofasciata [nigrofuscata] Motschulsky [(Motschulsky)]

Hymenoptera

Formicidae (ants)
Polyrhachis vicina Roger [Syn. of Polyrhachis diues Smith]

Vespidae (wasps)
Vespa japonica (author?) [Motschulsky] [Syn. of Vespa mandarinia Smith]
Vespula lewisi (author?) [lewisii (Cameron)]

Isoptera

Rhinotermitidae
Coptotermes formosanus (author?) [Shiraki]

Termitidae
Macrotermes barnyi (author?) [barneyi Light]

Lepidoptera

Bombycidae (silkworm moths)
Bombyx mori (Linn.) [Linn.]

Gelechiidae
Pectinophora gossypiella Saunders [(Saunders)]

Hepialidae (ghost moths and swifts)
Hepialus [Thitarodes] armoricanus 0berthür [(Oberthür)]

Noctuidae (noctuids)
Hydrillodes morosa (author?) [(Butler)] [Syn. of Hydrillodes lentalis Guenee]

Pyralidae (snout and grass moths)
Aglossa dimidiata (author?) [(Haworth)]

Saturniidae (giant silkworm moths)
Antheraea pernyi (Guerin-Meneville) [There appeared to be a question about this author's name but this editor is not certain as to what it was.]
Saturnia [Eriogyna] pyretorum (Westw.)

Sphingidae (sphinx or hawk moths)
Clanis bilineata Walker [(Walker)]

Orthoptera

Acrididae (short-horned grasshoppers)
Acrida lata Motschulsky [(Motschulsky)l [Syn. of Acrida conica (Fabricius)]
Locusta migratoria Linn. [(Linn.)]
Locusta migratoria manilensis Megen [(Meyen)]
Oxya chinensis Thunberg [(Thunberg)]
Oxya velox Fabricius [(Fabricius)]
Oxya yezoensis Shiracki [(Shiraki)]

Blattidae (roaches) [now under the order Dictyoptera]

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Updated 10/13/06.