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Edible: An Adventure Into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet [Hardcover]

Daniella Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

11 Feb 2014
Insects. They’re what’s for dinner. Can you imagine a world in which that simple statement is not only true but in fact an unremarkable part of daily life? Daniella Martin, entomophagist and blogger, can.

In this rollicking excursion into the world of edible insects, Martin takes us to the front lines of the next big trend in the global food movement and shows us how insects just might be the key to solving world hunger. Along the way, we sample moth larvae tacos at the Don Bugito food cart in San Francisco, travel to Copenhagen to meet the experimental tasters at Noma’s Nordic Food Lab, gawk at the insects stocked in the frozen food aisle at Thailand’s Costco, and even crash an underground bug-eating club in Tokyo.

Martin argues that bugs have long been an important part of indigenous diets and cuisines around the world, and investigates our own culture’s bias against their use as a food source. She shines a light on the cutting-edge research of Marcel Dicke and other scientists who are only now beginning to determine the nutritional makeup of insects and champion them as an efficient and sustainable food source.

Whether you love or hate bugs, Edible will radically change the way you think about the global food crisis and perhaps persuade you that insects are much more than a common pest. For the adventurous, the book includes an illustrated list of edible insects, recipes, and instructions on how to raise bugs at home.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: New Harvest (11 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544114353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544114357
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

DANIELLA MARTIN is a certified entomophagist, or bug-eating expert. She has been featured in the Huffington Post, The New Yorker, the Wall Streeet Journal, SF Weekly, and AOL News. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Jenny J
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this book both interesting and incredibly informative. Some really good ideas and research have gone into the book, so I would definitely recommend getting it if you are interested in entomophagy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  47 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Once a bug eater, always a bug eater" 4 Jan 2014
By Miss Barbara - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Global Hunger is a very serious subject. Author DANIELLA MARTIN is a certified entomophagist, or bug-eating expert and the knee jerk reaction of many will certainly be NO WAY! Daniella has traveled the world learning how other countries and cultures have successfully eaten bugs for centuries.

The palate of us North Americans has changed over the last couple of hundred years whether we care to admit it or not. At the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims no doubt were embarrassed to serve lobster which was poor man's fare. These now expensive delicacies were then considered garbage and piled up on the shore after storms. We learn that until a Japanese businessman from Japan Airlines began importing Bluefin tuna in the 60's it was just considered a good-fighting sports-fish that was thrown back after it was weighed and photographed with the angler.

Insects are found in great quantities all over the world. The raising and cultivating of insects for food is more sustainable than conventional livestock. Crickets taste like nutty shrimp but a pound requires 1,000x less water per pound than a pound of chicken. The author traveled the world investigating indigenous cultures that use insects as an integral part of their cuisine.

This is a fascinating read and never boring as new gastronomy is explored for the good of the planet but also to expand the appreciation of new tastes that may be surprisingly pleasurable and satisfying.

The author ends the book with methods for raising insects as husbandry but best yet offers recipes for many varieties of the creepy-crawlies. Among them are the Wax Moth Taco, Crickety Kale Salad and Fig Canapés made with grasshoppers. As a final caveat the reader is warned that if you are allergic to shellfish you may also be allergic to insects and if you are allergic to bee stings, don't eat bees.

I really enjoyed this book but have yet to attempt actually eating insects but as far as the author, she maintains: "Once a bug-eater, always a bug-eater".
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edible 5 Feb 2014
By alli_g - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Edible is a really interesting look at entomophagy. Daniella Martin begins by explaining why insects should be a normal part of the human diet from both a nutritional and ecological standpoint. She provides a sound, logical argument for the consumption of insects while fully aware of the obstacles to adding bugs to the Western diet.

This is the hard part to wrap your brain around, even for someone who doesn't mind insects or see them as creatures to be wiped out. I was interested to read Edible because my son, who is now ten, has been fascinated by insects for the past seven years. He collects them, reads about them, studies them, and yes, even eats them when he gets the chance. I once took him to an entomophagy event at the nearby Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. He was willing to try some insect dishes (veggie fried rice with crickets and mealworms), but I could not get over my squeamishness. While there are always bugs in our freezer waiting to be spread and pinned, cooking and eating them is something I'm not really brave enough to try, although I do plan to look up some of the companies mentioned in the book. My son would love nothing more than to order some specimens he can sample and/or add to his collection.

In Edible, Martin does a very good job of making insects sound delicious. She makes me think I could maybe give entomophagy a try as she describes her travels to various countries and the types of insect cuisine she encounters. If we eat crabs, lobster, and shrimp, why not bugs? She presents her story and thoughts with a good dose of humor. Edible is very readable and interesting. Entomophagy is one food trend that I hope continues to grow as hopefully my courage will grow and I will someday try a wax worm taco.
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars And we really wanted to eat bugs... 11 Mar 2014
By Hervian Rose - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this because my daughter wanted to try some insect recipes. I should probably explain that we've lived in places where insects are eaten as a matter of course, so there is no ick factor. So I was very disappointed that it was not actually a recipe book. It does have a few recipes in it as well as instructions to raise your own meal worms, but really not much, and disappointingly, no pictures.
However I rated it low for other reasons. The book was written by a person who flew to this country to eat this bug and that country to eat another bug and across the states to eat bugs imported from all over the world at a world class restaurant. And in between the stories of her profligate adventures, she exhorted the poor of northern climes to save themselves by farming insects. (and save the planet in the process by reducing the grain required to produce protein and not caring that her own slip was showing, flapping gaily behind her huge jet fuelled carbon footprint)
In reality, anywhere insects can be raised easily and reliably, the poor are already eating them. In the warm, moist countries of the world, you can buy them ready to snack on at the market, at the ferry crossing, and if you raise your chin just right, someone will come to your door with a laden bicycle to sell you some.
The instructions given for raising various insects to eat require expensive containers, shipments of starter animals, and expensive food to maintan a populaton. (If the poor can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and honey in the winter, they should probably just eat it.)
The book felt self-righteous and condescending. It may appeal to an elite audience but falls tragically short of comprehending issues of poverty or agriculture.
There are serious insect cookbooks available, as well as ethnic cookbooks that include traditional insect recipes that are much more worth your time and investment.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 29 Jan 2014
By Brian A. Schar - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Edible" is a fascinating look at entomophagy - colloquially, bug eating. Daniella Martin takes us through the cultural history, culinary variety, and economic/environmental reasons for eating bugs. As she puts it - and as I've always thought; it was like she read my mind - animals are "meat machines" for converting plants to protein. From a sheer efficiency standpoint, bugs are far better meat machines than larger animals. And, as omnivores, we humans need that meat protein to stay healthy. The travelogue parts of the book are the highlight, as she interviews a variety of people in the first and third worlds who are pioneers in entomophagy.

This book is organized in two parts: the primary narrative and the "epilogue." The epilogue contains instructions how to farm many of the insects discussed in the book, descriptions of the bugs and their flavors, and bug recipes for those who want to taste what Martin described. I don't know that I'd call it an "epilogue" given that it runs half as long, at least, as the remainder of the book. Nevertheless it's good basic information that beginners could use to get started growing and eating bugs. Martin identifies a number of vendors for bugs in the book, so you have enough data on that front to get started, but it would be helpful to have an appendix somewhere listing those vendors, what they do and giving a website/email to help you find them.

If I would change anything about this book, it would be to expand the travelogue sections. Particularly with Nordic Food Lab - that was absolutely fascinating and I felt we only got a tiny glimpse into a cutting-edge massively-talented group. I found myself much more interested in Martin's culinary adventures overseas and in her interviews with entomophagists, farmers, chefs and others than I was in the general bug advocacy portions of the book. I'd also like to find out more about the bulk-protein industry, which is alluded to but not really explored. The use of bugs as a protein source for a variety of foods and supplements seems like a no-brainer and a way for the bug farming industry to ramp quickly.

And the big unanswered question for me - what about the shells? I've eaten crispy Asian shrimp, shells, eyes and all, and the shell is still a problem to chew and get down. Much is made about crickets - I'd love to know how you actually eat those without the shell getting in the way. Is it tasty? Is it not actually that hard?

Even if you don't plan to eat bugs, and frankly I don't, "Edible" is a quick and interesting read. I'd highly recommend it for foodies or inquisitive people.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You could consider eating a cricket yourself... 4 Feb 2014
By Lisa - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Eating insects - even for someone like me, who is WAY more open to eating fringe foods than the vast majority - seemed just completely weird and unreasonable. The author is passionate about the value - and enjoyment! of eating a whole range of creepy crawlies, and she's convincing; I can imagine eating most of the things she's discussing (bring on the wax moth larvae tacos). It's much harder to imagine preparing and cooking those insects, or raising them.

The book starts with a discussion of the value of insects over regular animals as a source of nutrition from an environmental and ethical standpoint, and why humans in the past and in other countries eat insects and we in the west do not. While the science is kind of at the hand-waving level, it's very well done reasoning, and she makes a good case. Then, there are stories of her travels and experiences eating different insects in different countries.

The how-to seems to be pretty well done, with the caveat that it's not in depth, given the vast range of species and their range of habits and preferences. She describes raising three kinds of insects, with about two pages each, and provides 10 recipes, mostly for the critters she describes raising. There's a longer list of an overview of the edible qualities of a range of insects, spiders, scorpions, and earthworms.
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