Monday, September 12, 2016

Recognizing Insects in Science and as Pests - Japan style

As you know, in this class we collect insects and sacrifice them in the name of first-hand discovery, study, and deeper understanding.  Countless animals have (and will) die for the purpose of scientific biological study, and in my view the very least you can do is honor and acknowledge that taking of a life. We had a small shrine in the insect lab where I did my PhD study, a place where innumerable moths, butterflies, ants, and others where reared and researched A small gesture, but I think necessary to remind us of the essential contradictions wrapped up in close study of life and all of its wondrous complexity.

Recall I mentioned the variability in cultural attitudes towards insects, including the Japanese tendency to to acknowledge, and sometimes revere, the form, function, and role of insects.

Kaneiji Temple in Tokyo is a Zen Buddhist temple part of which is devoted to the souls of insects that died for scientific research (that second pictogram on the rock refers to "insects")

A whole other step further is perhaps the monument to souls of termites at the Koya-san Buddhist cemetery sponsored and paid for by who.....?  A pest control company!  A very different attitude towards insects life indeed. The epitaph reads "Termites - Rest peacefully!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

David Gracer, insect eater

The David Gracer insect-eater interview from the Colbert Report that we missed in class this week - here it is!  I love his energy, he is unflappable in the face of Colbert's sarcastic doubt par excellence.

Meanwhile, I stumbled on this webpage with a ridiculous wealth of entomophagy resources -

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ant Egg Fried Chicken!

The Chicago Reader runs series called "Key Ingredient" where they challenge local chefs at Honey Butter Fried Chicken with ingredients out of their usual comfort zone.

In this episode from last month they have some fried chicken chefs include ant eggs into their menu roster. In this case by "eggs" I think they likely in fact mean "larva" as the eggs would be too small to see very well, much less use in a dish!  Seems like it was a success?