Via NewYorkTimes: Some Who Fled Cuba Are Returning to Help

Some Who Fled Cuba Are Returning to Help
By DAMIEN CAVEMARCH 4, 2014
20140306-132551.jpg

At Atelier, foreigners and Cubans find food and service that had disappeared from Havana for decades. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

HAVANA — The business ideas have ranged from a bikini franchise to a peanut farm, restaurants, and design firms for software and home interiors. But even more novel than the pitches — in a country where entrepreneurship used to be illegal — is the financial muscle behind them: Cuban-Americans whose families lost their previous ventures to Cuba’s Communist government.

“It’s all about people not losing hope and seeing that starting a business is a way to improve their lives,” said Eduardo Mestre, 65, a Wall Street banker who returned to Cuba last year for the first time since 1960 to see the start-up training he helps finance. “Emotionally, it’s very hard not to connect with people who have all this ambition in a place where maintaining hope is very hard to do.”

Many of the first Cubans to leave after Fidel Castro took over are beginning to come back, reuniting with the island they left in bitterness and anger, overcoming decades of heated opposition to its leaders, and partnering with Cubans in direct, new ways.

Some are educating a new crop of Cuban entrepreneurs to take advantage of the recent limited openings for private enterprise in Cuba. Conservative Republican exiles in Miami have also helped finance the renovation of Cuba’s most revered Roman Catholic shrine. Young heirs to the Bacardi family, which fled Cuba after the revolution, leaving behind luxurious homes and a rum business that employed 6,000 people, are sending disaster relief and supporting artists. And Alfonso Fanjul, the Florida sugar baron, recently acknowledged that he had gone back to Cuba twice, meeting with Cuban officials and later declaring that he would consider investing under the “right circumstances.”

It has been a shocking reversal for a community of exiles that has long represented a pillar of support for the American embargo against Cuba. And though the activity is legal through humanitarian or other licensed exceptions to the sanctions, some Cuban-American lawmakers have responded with outrage. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Miami, called Mr. Fanjul’s trips a betrayal.

“The question is how can we better help the Cuban people free themselves from this regime that has been there for over half a century,” he said. “And the best way to do that is to deny funds to the regime in any way we can.”

But what has emerged in Miami, New York and elsewhere over the past two years, as President Raúl Castro has opened the economy, just a crack, is an alternative approach that emphasizes grass-roots engagement, often through churches, as a tool for giving Cubans skills and independence from the state. Among many Cuban-Americans who now describe themselves as a part of a diaspora, rather than exiles, a new sense of responsibility — to Cubans on the island, not to the property they lost or to fighting the Castros — has gathered strength.

“We think engagement, dialogue and interaction — lowering the barriers — is the best way to develop civil society,” Mr. Mestre said, “but also some of us who feel some respect for the 11 million people stuck there, we just really feel that’s the right thing to do.” He added that he sought a relationship with Cuba, despite the loss of his family’s homes and businesses, including what was once Cuba’s largest television and radio network, because “the loss of our property and wealth is kind of secondary to the feeling about what happened to the country and its people.”

The expanding exchange of people, ideas and money is a result of policy changes over the past few years in Washington and Havana that have opened up travel and giving for Cubans and Cuban-Americans. After decades of being cut off by politics, the airport here is always crammed with Cuban-Americans coming to see family and lugging in gifts, just as it is now more common to see Cuban artists, academics and dissidents in Florida or New York, often mingling with the established Cuban-American elite.

“The broad trend is Cubans’, regardless of their politics or ideology, coming here to visit, live and work, and go back and forth,” said Julia E. Sweig, the director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s an organic dynamic in which the elite are participating.”

For many families, the transition from keeping Cuba at a distance to pulling it close has taken time and multigenerational discussion. When Kevin O’Brien and some of his cousins decided a few years ago to take charge of the long-dormant Bacardi Family Foundation, they agreed to focus much of their support on Cuba, returning to a version of an old family custom: Relatives pool money together and distribute it to a chosen cause or person.

Not everyone gives; there are about 500 Bacardis now, and disagreements over the homeland are common, said Mr. O’Brien, the foundation’s president. But since reactivating the foundation in 2012, the Bacardis have raised $28,000 for water filters after Hurricane Sandy and financed efforts to encourage creative expression, with art, photography and music.

Cuban officials seem tolerant, to a point. Eager to improve their weak economy, they welcome the money but fear its power, said one artist supported by the foundation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals. He added that while Cuba’s leaders had become more welcoming — no longer calling exiles gusanos, or worms — they were still distrustful, determined to keep Cuban-American influence from becoming an immediate challenge to the state.

Higueras Martinez, 39, in the kitchen of Atelier. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times
For now, experts say that seems unlikely. The organized money going to Cuba, beyond an estimated $2.6 billion in family remittances, mostly from the United States, remains relatively small. A lot of it is still funneled into the Catholic Church, one of the few institutions allowed to play a role in civil society. The Order of Malta provided 800,000 meals for the elderly in Cuba last year with around $250,000 in donations, mostly from Cuban-Americans in Miami. The Cuban police nonetheless interrogated some of the old women being fed.

The Cuba Emprende Foundation, a nonprofit on which Mr. Mestre is a board member, has also struggled to reassure Cuban officials that its founders — a bipartisan mix of exiles long dedicated to engagement and others who only recently embraced the idea — are interested only in incubating small businesses, in line with the government’s stated economic policy. The organization’s official tax forms filed recently with the I.R.S. state that it has disbursed about $225,000 so far, none of it from the United States government.

Board members say that Cuban officials suggest that Cuba Emprende must be part of a covert Washington plot. A Cuban instructor in Havana, who spoke anonymously to protect the program, said the pressure had increased as Cuba Emprende grew; by mid-March, 731 graduates will have completed the 80-hour course, run through the church in an old seminary here and at a rectory in Camaguey.

Cuban-American lawmakers who back the embargo also seem displeased with the increased engagement, even though Cuba Emprende and other groups in Cuba emphasize that their work does not violate the embargo.

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the Cuban-American Democrat often described by administration officials as Washington’s main impediment to broader changes in Cuba policy, said it was simply ineffective. “I’m not seeing this engagement produce the results they say it would,” he said, adding that “the regime hasn’t become more open,” even as Europeans travel and invest in Cuba, unfettered.

Mr. Mestre contends Mr. Menendez and other embargo supporters in Congress are counterproductive. “With that attitude,” he said, “you’re just hurting the people you’re trying to help.”

Increasingly, many Cubans and Cuban-Americans are building their own ties, reveling in the surprise of a rediscovered connection. “Cubans are Cubans,” said Niuris Higueras Martínez, 39, one of Cuban Emprende’s first graduates, in 2012. “We find ways to work together.”

That bond is now evolving alongside, or within, Mr. Castro’s limited opening to market ideas. Ms. Higueras, a whirlwind who had always dreamed of opening a restaurant, now owns Atelier, one of Havana’s most popular eateries. Cuba Emprende played a major role in making it happen.

“Everything in that course was important,” she said, including how to calculate her books or change her menu for the slow season. She said she also benefited from the sense of a shared mission with her classmates and the accountants and other professionals Cuba Emprende relies on for help in Cuba. “There was just such chemistry,” she said.

Now, in her business and others, there is a demand for more opportunity, more possibility — but also the usual barriers. Cuban law and the American embargo prohibit Cuba Emprende from bankrolling its students’ ideas as it would like to. Without enough capital for bigger ventures, including Ms. Higuera’s dream of a cooking school, some ambitions are just visions.

During the dinner rush at Atelier, however, with foreigners and Cubans enjoying food and service that had disappeared from Havana for decades, Ms. Higueras was more interested in focusing on how far she had come. “If you have 15 employees, you have at least 10 families whose troubles are suddenly resolved,” she said, wiping a few drops of chocolate from the corner of a plate on its way out of the kitchen. “If you open a little, you get a lot.”

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via Telegraph: The maps which explain the Ukraine crisis

The maps which explain the Ukraine crisis

As Russia and Ukraine come ever closer to blows over Crimea, we explain, using maps, the issues at stake

10:35AM GMT 04 Mar 2014

Ukranian and Russian Military Balance

Ukraine’s regular army has only 65,000 soldiers, compared with almost 300,000 deployed in Russia’s western and southern military districts, which border Ukraine. Russia also has an established military presence inside the Ukrainian region of Crimea, centred around the Black Sea Fleet base at the port of Sevastopol. These forces have now fanned out across Crimea and seized de facto control of the territory.

EU gas dependency

The three pipelines that carry gas across Ukraine to Poland and Slovakia and on to the EU. Trade sanctions are unpopular among European countries, which are heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas. Europe gets 40 per cent of its natural gas from Russia. Germany is particularly reluctant to get into a sanctions war since it imports more than a third of its oil and gas from Russia.

Distribution of the population speaking Ukrainian or Russian

Via NBCNews: First Americans May Have Been Stuck in Beringia for Millennia

First Americans May Have Been Stuck in Beringia for Millennia
BY ALAN BOYLE
WILLIAM MANLEY / IAAR / UNIV. OF COLO.
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This map shows the outlines of modern Siberia (left) and Alaska (right) with dashed lines. The broader area in a darker shade of green, which is now covered by ocean, represents the Bering land bridge as it existed about 18,000 years ago.
Anthropologists say that the ancestors of Native Americans started making their way from Siberia to the Americas 25,000 years ago over a land bridge that once spanned the Bering Sea — but there are gaps in that story: Why didn’t those migrants leave behind any archaeological traces until 10,000 years later?

Now scientists are homing in on an explanation: During all those millennia, the first Americans were isolated on the land bridge itself. When the land bridge vanished, so did the evidence of that Beringian culture.

The “Beringian Standstill” hypothesis was first proposed by Latin American geneticists in 1997, as a way to explain the genetic evidence indicating that Native Americans started diverging from Siberians 25,000 years ago. In contrast, the archaeological evidence for the first Americans goes back only 15,000 years, to the end of the ice age known as the Last Glacial Maximum.

In this week’s issue of the journal Science, three researchers report new clues that support the claims for Beringia’s lost world. They say fossilized insects, plants and pollen extracted from Bering Sea sediment cores show that central Beringia was once covered by shrub tundra. That would have made it one of the few regions in the Arctic where wood was available for fuel.

Thousands of Siberian migrants might have found refuge in central Beringia until the climate warmed up enough for glaciers to recede, letting them continue their movement into the Americas, the researchers say. “This work fills in a 10,000-year missing link in the story of the peopling of the New World,” Scott Elias, a geography professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, said in a news release.

NANCY BIGELOW / UNIV. OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS
A photo of Alaska’s shrub tundra environment today shows birch shrubs in the foreground and spruce trees scattered around Eight Mile Lake in the foothills of the Alaska Range.
In addition to Elias, the authors of “Out of Beringia?” include lead author John Hoffecker and Dennis O’Rourke. For more about the “Beringian Standstill” concept, check out the reports from the University of Utah and the University of Colorado, plus this online animation and PDF presentation. For an alternate explanation of the spread of the first Americans, check out this archived story.

First published February 27th 2014, 1:37 pm

ALAN BOYLE
Alan Boyle is the science editor for NBC News Digital. He joined MSNBC.com at its inception in July 1996

MAP via Sentencing Project: How Felon Voting Policies Restrict the Black vote

Cartogram of disenfranchisement rates, 2010. (Sentencing Project)Cartogram of disenfranchisement rates, 2010. (Sentencing Project) In Florida, more than one in five black adults can’t vote. Not because they lack citizenship or haven’t registered, but because they have, at some point, been convicted of a felony. More than 20 percent of black adults have lost their right to vote in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia, according to the Sentencing Project, a group that advocates for reforms to sentencing policy that reduces racial disparities.

via AlaskaDispatch: How religion in the US today tracks closely with geography

How religion in the US today tracks closely with geography

Brad KnickerbockerThe Christian Science Monitor

February 9, 2014

 Mississippi or Alabama? Protestant. Rhode Island or New Jersey? Roman Catholic. Mormon? That’s easy: Utah, although a substantial minority in Idaho is Mormon too. Vermont or Oregon? You could well be “unchurched.”

Demography isn’t exactly spiritual destiny. But for most Americans, their religious identity tracks closely with where they live.

If they’re Protestant, they’re more likely to live in the South. Seven of the ten most-Catholic states, on the other hand, are in the Northeast – although California and New Mexico, with heavily Hispanic populations, have large numbers of Catholics as well.

These are some of the findings in a new Gallup survey.

“All 10 of the most Protestant states are located in the South,” Gallup reported this week. “Nine of these states are at least 70 percent Protestant, including the two most highly Protestant states, Mississippi and Alabama, each with a 77 percent Protestant population.”

“Two other religious groups that are much smaller constitute about 2 percent of the population each, with Mormons concentrated in Utah and Idaho, and Jewish Americans most likely to be found in several Middle Atlantic and New England states, plus the District of Columbia,” according to Gallup.

But what about the degree of fervency or devoutness?

Vermont has the smallest percentage of those who identify themselves as “very religious” (just 22 percent) with other New England states – New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts – not far behind.

Mississippi has the highest percentage of “very religious” (61 percent), with Mormon Utah and other Protestant southern states – Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina – not far behind.

Increasing numbers of Americans refer to themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” and this shows up in the number of unaffiliated adults queried by Gallup and the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project – a figure that’s risen to nearly 20 percent in the most recent Pew survey (2012).

It’s a figure that’s likely to grow as the generations move on.

“A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32 percent), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9 percent),” Pew reported. “And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives.”

A key question: Will today’s “millennials” retain that attitude later in life, or will they “find religion” – at least a generally accepted denomination – as they advance in years?

There may be an important political dimension paralleling if not attributable to shifting religious attitudes.

“In the 2008 presidential election, [the religiously unaffiliated] voted as heavily for Barack Obama as white evangelical Protestants did for John McCain,” according to Pew. “More than six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats (39 percent) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24 percent). They are about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives, and solid majorities support legal abortion (72 percent) and same-sex marriage (73 percent).”

Meanwhile, two-thirds of Americans – affiliated and unaffiliated alike – say religion is losing its influence in Americans’ lives, Pew reported last year.

At the same time, the US – founded by those looking for a religious freedom they had not known in Europe, and despite the growth in atheism and agnosticism – remains more religious than most other western countries.

A majority continues to say that religion is very important in their lives – much higher than Britain (17 percent), France (13 percent), Germany (21 percent), or Spain (22 percent). And 76 percent say that prayer is an important part of their daily life – the same level as in 1987, Pew finds.

Self-described Protestants may still be a majority of religious Americans (although that percentage has slipped to barely more than half). But their influence at the top levels of government continues to wane.

Between 1961 and 2014, the percentage of Protestants in Congress dropped from 75 percent to 56 percent. Over the same period, the percentage of Catholic lawmakers in Washington rose from 19 percent to 31 percent, and the percentage of Jewish members tripled from 2 percent (in line with the overall US population) to 6 percent.

The current Congress also includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none.”

On the US Supreme Court, in its early days a largely WASP institution, there are no Protestant justices today. Six are Catholic and three are Jewish.

via CNN: Mainland Chinese line up for Australia’s ‘millionaire visa’

Mainland Chinese line up for Australia’s ‘Millionaire Visa’

By Peter Shadbolt, for CNN
February 4, 2014 — Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Chinese immigration into Australia now represents the third largest group after migrants from the UK and New Zealand.
Chinese immigration into Australia now represents the third largest group after migrants from the UK and New Zealand.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chinese are the biggest group to apply for Australia’s ‘millionaire visa’
  • High wealth individuals must invest $A5 million in Australia to get a visa
  • Those investing for more than four years are eligible for permanent residency
  • Chinese are the third largest immigrant group in Australia after the UK and NZ

Hong Kong (CNN) — There’s little doubt which country Australia is targeting under its immigration scheme for the super-wealthy; the investment visa is called sub-class 188 and its permanent visa is called sub-class 888.

In China, the number eight is culturally associated with wealth, prosperity and good fortune and rich Chinese nationals have been queuing up for the opportunity to live in Australia under the millionaire visa program.

Since the scheme was launched in November 2012, 91% of the 545 applicants for the visas have been Chinese nationals, according to figures from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

So far, Australia has granted 65 ‘significant investor’ visas to mainland Chinese.

The requirements for getting one of the highly prized visas are simple: all you need is a clean criminal record and $A5 million ($US4.37 million) to invest. There is no language requirement, upper age limit and applicants do not even have to set up a business in Australia.

Report: Wealthy Chinese using tax havens

Joining China’s journey home

The world’s largest mass migration

Those able to park their A$5 million investment in Australia — complying investments include government bonds, managed funds and Australian proprietary companies – for more than four years can apply for a permanent visa.

Under the scheme, visa holders can keep their operations running in China if they wish. It’s hoped that the move will attract a greater range of immigrants to Australia.

MORE: Europe’s golden visas lure China’s rich

Deloitte partner and global immigration leader Mark Wright told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the days of Chinese investors coming to Australia simply to start a corner store or a small business were over.

“Australia is now looking to attract a larger scale of investment to feed a greater level of infrastructure development,” Wright said.

According to a report by professional services company KPMG, the patterns of Chinese investment are beginning to change, with more private Chinese investors expanding their interests in the country.

The report said that while Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) accounted for 64% by value of the amount invested in Australian agriculture between 2006-2012, Chinese private investment accounted for 70% of the deal volume.

“Chinese companies are playing a more active role compared to other sectors such as mining and gas, where SOEs have dominated,” the report said.

According to immigration specialists in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne — where property prices have risen 10% and 6% respectively over the past 12 months — are the preferred destinations for mainland Chinese immigrants.

In some suburbs 90 per cent of new product will sell to Chinese buyers
John McGrath

The chief executive officer of McGrath Estate Agents, John McGrath, said that Chinese buyers had boosted prices in certain sectors of the Australian property market.

“In some suburbs 90 per cent of new product will sell to Chinese buyers,” he told the ABC. “I think it is quite centralised in certain pockets, so I don’t think it is doing great damage or harming local buyers’ opportunities to buy here still.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of Australian immigrants born in Asia increased from 24% in 2001 to 33% in 2011.

Around 6% of immigrants born overseas came from China — the third largest group in Australia. While this group, along with Indians, represented one of the fastest growing groups, it was still a long way behind immigration from the United Kingdom, at 20%, and New Zealand at 9.1%.

Immigration has been a politically charged and emotive subject in Australia, where the conservative Liberal Party won election last year partly on a platform of promising tougher policing of the country’s immigration laws. Australia turns away thousands of refugees and asylum seekers but at the same time is suffering a skills and manpower shortage for manual jobs.

Indian woman and baby burned alive for dowry, police say

See on Scoop.itAdvanced Human Geography

Police in eastern India have arrested the husband and parents-in-law of a 22-year-old woman for allegedly burning her and her 1-year-old baby girl alive.

TheHumanImprint‘s insight:

The haunting reminder that dowry deaths are still a part of deeply rooted patriarchal societies.

Keyterms: Dowry death, Bride Burning, South Asia, Patriarchal Society, Gender Inequity, Dowry

See on edition.cnn.com

Via PRI: A Haitian artist fights to preserve the vodou religion

A Haitian artist fights to preserve the vodou religion

Credit: Swoan Parker/Reuters
A vodou worshipper takes part in festivities on the first day of the Haitian Festival of Ancestors in Port-au-Prince.

Erol Josué is a dancer, a recording artist, a vodou priest, and an expert on the vodou religion’s culture and history.

“They beat me in the name of Jesus,” Josué sings in one song. “They burn me in the name of Jesus.”

The lyrics of this old vodou song date back to slavery days in the 18th Century, but their warning rings true today for some vodou practitioners — or vodouisants — who feel under attack. The old joke goes that Haiti is 70 percent Catholic, 30 percent Protestant and 100 percent Vodou.

For Josué, this is no joking matter. Last year, he took a government job as head of Haiti’s National Ethnology Office. He’s on a mission to get Haitians to realize that they need to embrace their vodou heritage — whether they agree or not.

Ground zero for the tension is Bwa Kayiman, a site in northern Haiti. A late-night meeting there in 1791 set in motion what would become one of history’s most successful slave revolts. It’s essentially where the country of “Haiti” was born — as a union of different tribes, faiths and languages.

“It was the moment the slaves said, ‘we’ve become Creoles today; we’re no longer African. We won’t fight to return to Africa, but for this land,” Josué said.

These days, Bwa Kayiman is a mess. On a visit with a team of ethnologists, Josué found a handful of historical sites unmarked and decaying. This is supposed to a heritage site, but buildings have been built illegally, including Protestant churches.

Josué is not happy.

“Vodou has never been a religion of conquest,” he says. “We don’t raise awareness to convert people to vodou, but to educate them about the importance of the national identity, the importance of respecting the sites, of respecting the patrimony. The churches and houses that were built on the Bwa Kayiman site is, personally, a kind of sacrilege. But it’s also an attack on the state.”

This “attack,” as Josué puts it, comes mainly from the evangelical movement. Unofficial estimates suggest about half of Haitians are Protestant these days, a rise fueled in large part by American-funded Evangelical missions, churches and schools.

Elizabeth McAlister is a Haiti scholar at Wesleyan University, and a long-time friend of Josué’s.

“The evangelical movement desires to reduce vodou entirely, if they could they would have a Christian revival and transform the country to a Christian majority,” she says.

McAlister says there’s no question that foreign religious influence is affecting Haitians’ attitudes about vodou but she says that even many Haitians feel the vodou religion and culture is something they would rather leave in the past.

“Among educated and other people who see vodou as always having been denigrated, always having been insulted, the discourse on vodou are either that it’s an illegal practice or it’s a practice of superstition done by the ignorant,” she says. “Meanwhile, so much of the culture is infused with the principles of the form. So, it creates a tension, psychologically — how does one represent the culture, and how does one come to terms with being from this culture which is so saturated with this religion?”

Vodou’s influence is felt just about everywhere in Haiti, from the country’s music and art to the latest locally-designed fashions and accessories on display in uptown boutiques.

As head of the Haitian ethnology office, Josué has demonstrated and lobbied to create the first national holiday to honor vodou. Like it or not, he says, vodou is soaked deep into Haiti’s local and international brand — as an aesthetic, a philosophy and a way of life.

“You can be what you want, but stay a Haitian. Stay a proud Haitian,” Josué says.

Ferreira’s reporting was supported by a grant from the International Reporting Project.

via NPR: The Katydid Dilemma: Will You Eat Insects?

Could this be the onset of the Fourth AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION? One thing is for sure, it would have made ESTER BOSERUP smile.

-Human Imprint

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reblog via NPR

The Katydid Dilemma: Will You Eat Insects?

by BARBARA J. KING

January 17, 201411:13 AM

Insect candy given out as part of a promotion in London last year.

It’s right there on the dinner menu at Oyamel (a Washington, D.C., restaurant), listed under the “authentic Mexican tacos” section:

Chapulines

The legendary Oaxacan specialty of sauteed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole.

$5.00

Whether it’s sauteed grasshoppers at Oyamel or katydid grilled cheese sandwiches prepared for the annual Bug Fair at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, insects are the new darlings of the avant-garde food world. At least that’s the message in the chapter called “Grub” from Dana Goodyear’s book Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture.

Which animals we eat, and which we revile and reject, fascinates me. It’s in this context that I’m beginning to explore entomophagy.

Goodyear notes that 80 percent of the species alive on Earth today are insects, but only select species are consumed. Marc Dennis, writing on the Insects Are Food website, is more specific:

“There are an estimated 1,462 recorded species of edible insects and in all likelihood hundreds if not thousands more that simply haven’t been sampled or perhaps not even discovered yet.”

If, as Goodyear describes, insect-eating is seen as a cutting-edge culinary adventure in the U.S., it’s an everyday thing in other parts of the world. Brittany Fallon, my former student at the College of William and Mary, now conducting doctoral research in Uganda on the behavior of wild chimpanzees, stressed for me in an email message how selective villagers are about what insects they eat, and how detailed their knowledge is of insect behavior:

“There are ‘white ants’ which come in March after a big rain between 4/5 AM. Then there are ‘big ants’ which come in May, and emerge from the mounds at 1 AM. Finally, there are ‘bimumu’ the August ants, which come between 5-6 PM. Ants can be prepared in several ways: pan-fried with a bit of oil and spices, boiled into a kind of soup, and third, made into a sort of ‘bread’ of ground ant patties which are first boiled while wrapped in banana leaves, and then pan-fried. I’ve eaten the fried ants – yummy, no particular taste I can remember other than crunchy and oily, like popcorn – and also the ant bread, which tasted exactly like a McDonald’s sausage patty (not so yummy, to a longtime vegetarian).”

Here at home, will insect-eating really catch on? I wonder about the squeamish-palate factor, and about the ethics of eating insects versus other animals. Clearly, as Marc Dennis notes, insects pack a nutritional punch:

“According to the Entomological Society of America they generally contain more protein and are lower in fat than traditional meats. In addition they have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency than traditional meats. In other words they have a better feed-to-meat ratio than beef, pork, lamb or chicken, not to mention other less traditional meats such as goat, horse, buffalo, ostrich and alligator.”

So, because I’m curious, questions for my readers:

If you’re vegetarian, would you consider supplementing your intake of protein by way of entomophagy?

If you eat meat, would you consider sometimes substituting insects for other animals?