Archive for the ‘my life's adventure’ Category

From Cringe to Crave… Video of my Ignite presentation, with alternate ending…

October 22, 2014

A few weeks ago, I went onstage at the High Noon Saloon to deliver an Ignite presentation (20 slides in 5 minutes) on the theme of “Attainable Sustainable.” I spoke very quickly about how I overcome my aversion to eating a very attainable and sustainable (but not commonly appreciated) food…

IgniteEric_CringetoCrave2

 

I think it turned out pretty well. I had a lot to cram in there, and there was way more left out than put in. I’ve been writing a lot about entomophagy recently. (My first draft was over an hour long.)

Also, my last slide (slide #20) did not make it. In the moment, I panicked thinking I miscounted my slides, so I ended abruptly. But I didn’t miscount. My slides were cut short due to a technical issue with the computer.

So in the spirit of a Quantum-Leap/Back-To-The-Future-type ambition to put right what once went wrong, I will go through how I would have wanted it to end.

Image 7SLIDE 19

…Now I encourage you all to take your own journeys. Because eating bugs is not so weird, most of the world already does it. And it’s sustainable and paleo, and kosher, and gluten free, and no more grosser than many things we eat now.

Image 6SLIDE 20

And there are now bars with cricket protein, and a cricket flour you can bake with, and resources with the Eat-a-Bug Cookbook and Daniella Martin’s Edible.

It’s just a matter over that cultural aversion. As with a lot of things we wouldn’t normally do–like karaoke, giving an Ignite presentations–a little alcohol helps

I wanted to conclude by making clear that there are way more palatable edible insect foods out there now than what I made with my own cooking, like energy bars from Exo and Chapul, savory snacks from Don Bugito,  candies from Hotlix, and cool flour and baked goods from Bitty Foods.

Many thanks to the folks at Ignite and Sustain Dane for putting together such a cool night of folks talking sustainability from a variety of fun and unique angles. Check them all out here.

And also thanks to Cheri Schweitzer, top-notch Madison restaurant consultant of Credible Consulting, food safety expert, and instructor for WWBIC’s very worthwhile “Business Planning for Your Food Business,” who recommended I try to do this thing.

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From Cringe to Crave… My Ignite Night Presentation 10/8 at The High Noon

September 30, 2014

I’ve been selected as  a speaker at Ignite Madison at the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, Oct. 8th, 8-10pm (ignitemadison.org​). Ignite events are held nationwide and are like short Ted Talks, but in a bar. There are 10 speakers, limited to 5 minutes and 20 slides. Each night has a theme. The theme of the Oct. 8 event is Attainable Sustainable: Acting Today for a Better Tomorrow, which features “people who are passionate about reusing, repurposing and making the most of our natural, social and economic resources — be it through business practices, food choices, making (or remaking) things, home dwelling decisions and much more.”

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My talk—“From Cringe to Crave: How I Got Over My Disgust for Eating Insects”—came out of a group project for my Evening MBA marketing class. Edible insects are a highly sustainable, nutritious and easily-produced food source that could become increasingly relied upon as the global population grows. Even though most of the world incorporates bugs in its diet, this does not happen in United States. But taste is a culture construct and a construct can change. (See the history of lobster.) Our MBA project showed how changing this construct is a marketing problem and a compelling business opportunity.

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I was encouraged by this class project and am now developing a business plan around edible insects. But in order to create a business around convincing others to eat insects, I first needed to overcome my own aversion to bug-eating (i.e., entomophagy). I am going to use my Ignite presentation to talk through how I went from instinctually cringing at the prospect of eating a cricket, to craving its nutty crunch. The presentation will feature images of the bug foods I’ve eaten, the bug-cooking I’ve attempted, and the bug-food events I’ve hosted.

This is a philanthropic event. Tickets are $9 in advance and $14 at the door with all proceeds going to Sustain Dane. Sustain Dane is a 501(c)3 non-profit that connects world trends to local needs and interests to create innovative new projects. Come on out, support a cool event, learn some new things, and connect with a diverse community of sustainability champions.

Why Eat Bugs #7: Easy to Cook (But Awkward To Get)

August 18, 2014

photo-axx

I cooked my first batch of bugs.

Not lobsters. Although New Englanders playfully refer to lobsters as “bugs.”

I cooked terrestrial arthropods, not the more culinary-acceptable aquatic arthropod.

I decided to start my insect-cooking journey with the wax moth tacos popularized by the Don Bugito food cart in San Francisco and featured in Daniella Martin’s awesome entomophagy treatise, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet.

First, I had to figure out where to get the bugs to eat.

I figured it would be the same place you would get bugs to feed a pet lizard.

photo (4)

It’s weird to think of a grocery run to Petsmart. I’ve never had a lizard—or anything—to buy bugs for. I decided to call ahead.

I called PetSmart on the west side and was connected with live reptile department. I asked, “Do you have waxworms?”

The Petsmart guy says, “Let me see.” He puts me on hold. 3 minutes pass. I’m weirdly giddy. He returns, “Yes”

I ask, “Are they alive?”

He says, “Yes.”

I ask, “Are they wax moth larvae?”

Hey says, “I don’t know. It just says ‘waxworms.’ What do you want them for?”

“Um… for an iguana,” I lie.

“Iguanas don’t eat waxworms. They should only be eating apples. You should not be feeding your iguana waxworms.”

At this point, I should hang up. But I can’t help defending my treatment of this non-existent iguana. I dig in deeper, “Oh, I don’t know what kind of lizard it is yet. It’s a gift.”

He responds with preachy helpfulness, “Well, you shouldn’t start with an iguana for a beginner. Iguanas or chameleons, no way. There are many other lizards that are much better to start out with. I have 18 years experience handling lizards. I can set you up properly. Why don’t you come in. I’m here till 8“

“Okay,” I lie. And hang up.

I realize I’m going to have to go in. To avoid Overzealous Lizard Man, I go to the Petsmart on the other side of town.

It’s an easy enough transaction. I am careful not to ask questions.

David George Gordon’s Eat-A-Bug Cookbook suggests freezing the waxworms over night to humanely kill them and any bacteria. I freeze them for 3 days just to be sure. Plus, I’m not eager to do this.  Despite all the reasons I’ve accumulated as a pre-emptive self-persuasion to eat bugs, I’m still beholden to my culturally-constructed food avoidance. Plus,  it seems a little different to actually have to cook them.

Nonetheless, here’s my journey…

STEP 1: Poured a strong drink.

photo 2STEP 2: Opened up the waxworm container, took a deep breath, and a big gulp from the strong drink.

photo 1

STEP 3: Cleaned up the bugs from the wood shavings.

photo 3

STEPS 4-6: Fried up onions, peppers in olive oil. Added the waxworms. Fried the shit out of them. In the hot oil, the waxworms stretched out and became orzo-like, and then crinkle-cut-french-fry-like.

photo 1

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STEP 7: Drained bugs. Took a deep breath, and another big sip from the strong drink.

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STEP 8: Made it look pretty on a tortilla. I added guacamole, queso fresco, tomato, fried waxwoms.

photo 5STEP 9: Enjoyed.

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They tasted like a fried crunchy meat with a soft nuttiness. Completely pleasant. I had 3 of these. It was very easy to cook. Like frying up some tilapia or shrimp for tacos.

Now, I’m feeling a little more ambitious. May invite some friends over next. But this could be the strong drink talking.

Why Eat Bugs #6: No Mad Mealworm Disease

August 13, 2014

Do you ever think about the young dance instructor who is now paralyzed after eating an E. coli-tainted hamburger?

I do. Habitually. I think about her every time I am about to handle any raw beef, chicken, or pork. I feel like I’m playing a russian roulette (albeit a lower risk version) by just touching some hamburger that could devastate my life. images (2) The UN Insect Food and Feed Report notes how the extreme conditions of industrial livestock production and processing (the crowding, filth, cannibalism) has led to a rise in antimicrobial resistance and the spread of horrendous zoonotic diseases (a disease is an infection/infestation shared by humans and animals): mad cow disease, swine flu, bird flu, foot and mouth disease, SARS.

And then I think about when an outbreak is discovered, how it leads to the extermination entire herds of at-risk animals.

The scope of waste is breathtaking.

It’s also another great reason to add bugs to the grocery list.

Although the UN report notes how “insects for food and feed have not been sufficiently tested to determine the risk that they will transmit diseases to humans,” it also adds “because insects are taxonomically much more distant from humans than conventional livestock, the risk of zoonotic infections is expected to be low.”

In their dissimilarity, what effects them most likely will not affect us.

However, bugs are often associated with disease. And there is good reason for that. Some insects can serve as biological taxis (like mosquitoes, ticks, flies) for blood-bourne diseases like malaria, chagas disease, lyme disease.

But we’re not eating mosquitoes, ticks, flies. At least, I’m not. But some people do. (I might.) termite-mushroom-22023577 Recently, I asked a local miller about the possibility using his facility to produce cricket flour. In his polite dismissal of my inquiry, he led with food safety and bacteria concerns.

Although I backed off, I wanted to say that he’s already grinding bugs. Which he knows.  And the government allows it. From the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook, it permits 75 insect fragments per 50 grams of flour. The government is well aware of the safety of eating insects and already approves of set (and significant) amounts of insects in commercially-available foods. For example, it permits…

  • 60 aphids in 3 ounces of broccoli (less than half a serving)
  • 10 or more fly eggs per 100 grams of tomato juice (a small juice glass?
  • over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms (a cup of drained mushrooms is about 150 grams)

BONUS: Both Danielle Martin’s awesome Edible and David George Gordon’s great Eat-A-Bug Cookbook explain why ketchup bottles have that second paper label around the neck of the bottle. “Before modern homogenization equipment was used to process foods, the darker-colored bug parts would float to the top of the ketchup bottle, leaving an unappetizing black ring”(Martin). So the second label was originally intended to “cover up the carcasses” (Gordon). download

This is all to say, we’re already eating bugs in a major way. And those bugs are not what’s in our food that makes us sick.

Also in Gordon’s cookbook, he notes how bugs are like chicken or pork. They do have to be thoroughly cooked to eliminate bacteria. Any mass-produced edible insects would have to follow the same health and sanitation regulation that all traditional food and feed items currently do. Edible insect startups would be well-advised to go above and beyond with meeting these regulations.

So, when I begin working with my batch of wax worms for my first-ever Don Bugito-inspired wax moth tacos (I will be hosting my fist bug culinary night), I can at least not worry about an arthropod spongiform encephalopathy.

I just need to worry about how I’m going to get them to eat the tacos.

download (3)mmm

Why Eat Bugs #2: Carbon Footprint

July 6, 2014

cicadas-&-silkworms-on-stic

In my continuing effort to persuade myself to get into eating bugs (or entomophagy…or “Prairie Shrimping”), it’s compelling consider the impact it would have on carbon footprints.

Not to poop in everyone’s 4th-of-July BBQ, but conventional animal protein production requires a huge energy expenditure, for…

  • growing a massive amount of feed,
  • transporting the feed and animals,
  • operating the feed mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, and meat-processing plants,
  • keeping the meat refrigerated

Here are some comparisons to give context to the amount of fuel needed for your meat-orgy of a picnic…

  • It takes as much fuel drive a car 10 miles as it does to produce 1 half-pound beef patty.
  • It takes 1 gallon of fuel to produce 1 pound of grain-fed beef.
  • To provide the yearly average beef consumption of an American family of 4 requires over 260 gallons of fuel.
  • It takes 28 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of meat protein.

[CONFESSION: I’m no carbon-abstaining saint (yet). I did buy 16lbs of shoulder meat this weekend for an epic ancho-flavored slow-roast. The amount of carbon dioxide this caused is equivalent to a drive from Madison, WI to Little Rock, AK… but this trip would in no way be equivalent in epicness to the resulting smoky-spicy tacos.]

The United Nations estimates that livestock-related emissions comprise about 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas output. That is a huge amount for an activity that doesn’t even register for many of us as a big energy consumer. (The top 2 are electricity at 32% and transportation at 28%.)

The world’s population is projected to grow almost 30% in the next 35 years, reaching 9 billion in 2050. If conventional animal protein continues to be relied upon, the already huge food-production emissions will continue to rise.

So about the footprint. A recent University of Oxford study determined how our eating choices impact our carbon footprint. Here’s a comparison of kilogram of carbon dioxide produced per diet-type…

  • Heavy Meat Eaters (“heavy” means 3.5oz a day…the average American eats 4oz): 7.19 kilograms of carbon dioxide
  • Medium Meat Eaters: 5.63
  • Low Meat Eaters: 4.67
  • Fish Eaters: 3.91
  • Vegetarians: 3.81
  • Vegans: 2.89(!)

To go vegan more than halves your carbon footprint. No need for public transportation or recycling to be an environmental good guy. Even just eating less meat can have a significant impact.

Although there are no numbers on the carbon footprint for a bug-only diet, because no one does this (yet… I think…), one can imagine it would be equivalent to the pescatarian/vegetarian numbers or lower. In insect-protein production, you do not have the extensive feed and processing needs of conventional animal protein.

So whenever I do confront my first insect meal, I can be consoled that I’m going from a carbon hoof-print to a teeny-tiny carbon ant-print. But will it taste as awesome as a 4-hour-roasted pulled-pork taco… eh…

References

20 Crossfit Haiku

July 1, 2014

When I first started Crossfit awhile back, I tweeted out a haiku for the first 20 times I went. Here they are…

kbell

Day 1

Did many deadlifts

With men who bloodied themselves

Scraping weight up shins

Day 2

Too many burpees.

One hundred kettle bell swings.

High-fives all around.

Day 3

Sore from yesterday.

Bruised wrists from kettle snatches.

And now more abuse.

Day 4

First time I fall down

Snatching what I could not catch.

More shaken than sore.

Day 5

Run, burpees, deadlifts.

Old, tired, but I finish first.

Coach yells, “3 MORE ROUNDS!”

Day 6

Headstand day is a

bad day to wear loose short shorts.

Blood-filled head don’t care.

Day 7

Now, I expect that

Crossfit heart-attack feeling.

Not just scared by it.

Day 8

Coach: “You triathlete?

You can live in the pain zone.”

Me: “No. But I know.”

Day 9

My olympic lifts

Are not much of an event.

Children outlift me.

Day 10

For kipping pull-ups,

I rubberband myself to

The bar, slingshot up.

Day 11

In warm-up, girl says,

“You look like the guy from ‘House.'”

Limping, rumpled, pissed.

Day 12

Coach eyes the one thir-

ty-five I’ll try 5 thruster

sets with. Asks, “You sure?”

Day 13

My hands blister from

Eighty-eight deadlift burpees.

I wince to high-five

Day 14

Hand-release pushups

Are a self-waterboarding

When you sweat a lot.

Day 15

I do headstand holds

Even though I have a cold.

Runny nose runs up.

Day 16

It’s easy to trick

Myself to do what I can’t.

Recovering ain’t.

Day 17

My hang power clean

Is not what one would call “clean.”

I’m working on it.

Day 18

Today’s WOD: AMRAP

WB’s, DL’s and

KB’s. FML.

Day 19

Coach posted a pic

Of me doing KB swings.

Gut looks distended.

Day 20

They play nu metal.

Compelling us to work out

To barking psychos.

Why Eat Bugs #1: Feed-Conversion Rates

July 1, 2014

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I don’t eat bugs. Not in a significant self-aware way, at least. But there are many good reasons to. I want to list the reasons I find most compelling—mainly as an exercise of pre-emptive self-persuasion. So that when I am confronted with a bowl of crickets, I can use these reasons to help me to overcome my culturally-constructed food avoidance.

In other words, I will use reason to get over the gross-out.

By the way, there’s a word for bug-eating. It’s “entomophagy…” an ugly stuffy-sciency word that’s another barrier to overcome.

One big reason eat bugs involve feed conversion rates. It’s well known how unsustainable current animal protein production is. However, compare this to insect protein production.

For example, if you take 10lbs of feed, it gets you the following conventional animal protein:

chicken

5lbs of chicken

pig

3lbs of pork

cow

1lb of meat

However, if you take the same amount of feed—10lbs—and give it to crickets, you get…

cricket9lbs of cricket meat!

That’s so much protein!

Since bugs are cold- blooded, they are much more efficient at converting feed to meat than their warm-blooded counterparts…which have to waste energy keeping themselves warm. They also don’t have to grow things that aren’t edible, like bones and fur and beaks. You pretty much eat all of the the cricket.

From sustainability point-of-view, the advantages are clear. You get almost twice as much insect protein from the same amount of feed than you would from chicken. You get 9 times as much as you would from a cow.

With increasing population rates, this type of food source could be a reliable and efficient protein source. It’s already happening in Thailand. 

However, is this enough for entomophagy (or better… maybe call it “land-crabbing”?) to take off in the US? Although it’s a lot of crickets, they are still crickets.

Although, I haven’t (knowingly) eaten crickets yet (can’t wait!), the efficiency of their production is a good reason.

 

Sources: 

The Yoga Challenge: Day 14

June 20, 2009

I did it. I went to a yoga class everyday for 14 days straight. How do I feel?

Completely defeated. 

2 days ago, I was on a high about my good prospects for finishing. I had hoped I would just coast through my last few days in the challenge, thinking I gotten through the worst. But distracted by admiring what was behind me, I little prepared for what was ahead. 

I’m pretty sure today’s yoga instructor hated my abs. 

Not that she had any reason to. They were unacquainted. Nonetheless, she led us through a series of poses of such concentrated strain on my midsection that it felt scornful.

I flopped around on my drenched mat, trying to hold onto everything I learned in the past 2 weeks, trying to breathe, trying not to look like the complete mess I was becoming. 

Maybe it wasn’t personal. Maybe she was (probably) 16 and didn’t realize the abuse she was meting out to the plus 30 crowd. I know it’s antithetical to be competitive in yoga, but she won.

And how do I respond to defeats?

Another challenge. I have vowed to make this my summer of flexibility and core strength.

I will take a few days off while heading back to Chicago. But I purchased another set of classes and will be back on the mat very soon.

The Yoga Challenge: Day 12

June 19, 2009

I am over the hump. I can see the end of the tunnel of my 14-day challenge. What seemed very unlikely around Day 7, is very much mine for the taking.

I went into this Day 12 knowing that it would either break or make me. 

It was the Vinyasa class at the Jewel in the Lotus (in Madison, and I’m a big fan. Net Promoter Score: 10) which is one of their 90-min classes. There would be a lot movement, unlike forrest. There would be a lot of sweating. There would be more possessive-pronoun-less directions. There would be the pigeon pose. 

Picture 12I’m not exactly there yet, but soon. You’ll be like, “What’s a pigeon doing here?…Oh, it’s just Eric.”

I focused on my breathing and made it through. Managed a handstand on my own. Got into a semi-pigeon. No major cramping.

This is in no way old hat for me yet, but if you gave me another 14 days, I’d probably be a master. I was thinking if the writing/marketing thing doesn’t pan out, I could be a Buddhist monk A-player.

This has been a great way to get into yoga. The Lotus’ absurdly cheap introductory offer (as many classes you want for 2 weeks) has been a great way for me (a yoga ignorant) to experience the varieties of yoga, and to build the core strength to actually do them.

The Yoga Challenge: Day 11

June 18, 2009

Today was my first attempt at forest Forrest yoga at the Lotus in my self-imposed challenge to make the most of $20. (Am I putting myself through this just because I’m cheap?)

Forest Forrest yoga has a lot of the same poses I’ve been doing for the past 10 days.

However, one of the main differences with forest Forrest yoga: you hold the positions for much longer. There isn’t a lot of the “flowing” movement as in the Prana and Ashtanga classes I’ve taken. Instead, you spend a lot of time holding still in a warrior stance, or in a crunch with your feet by your ears, breathing to different parts of your body.

I imagine you’re meant to hold these poses as still as a tree (thus the “forest”?).

Picture 8

At best, I managed a very trembling tree.  

Also, the new (and really helpful) forest yoga instructor didn’t use possessive pronouns in his instructions. It was a lot of “put right elbow past left knee” and “place left hand in front of left foot.” Distracted me more than once. Insufficient attribution throws me off every time.

Nonetheless, it was a nice change from the flowing class. Limited flowing meant limited sweating. I wasn’t leaving a pool of my secretion as has been my wont.

I finished feeling pretty good, even feeling as though I wasn’t challenged enough. 

6 hours later, something in my lower back is telling that I was challenged enough. Tomorrow could be a disaster.