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Making local sense of food, urban growth, population and energy

Street eats, and food explains the world

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A Burmese family buys paan, a ground-up mixture of betel nuts and other spices wrapped in a betel leaf, from a street vendor near the Botataung Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Foreign Policy/Drn/Stringer/Getty Images

This is a superlative gallery of street food from around the world. Terrific pictures, great atmosphere, you can almost smell the fried, baked and spiced goodies. A must-see gallery provided by Foreign Policy magazine.

In ‘How Food Explains the World’ the main article to which the delightful Street Eats is attached, we’re informed about China’s strategic pork reserve and a future where insects are the new white meat.

South Koreans take their national staple, kimchi, very seriously. There's a museum dedicated to the fermented cabbage dish in Seoul, and servings of it were shot into space along with the country's first astronaut. Photo: Foreign Policy/Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Images

Kimchi: When kimchi prices began soaring in late 2010
because of poor weather conditions and a bad cabbage harvest, Koreans predictably freaked out. As prices increased nearly fourfold – it normally costs $4 to $5 for a meal – consumers began referring to the dish as geum-chi, the Korean word for gold, and demanded the government take action.

Pundits lambasted President Lee Myung-bak for suggesting that Koreans try eating cheaper North American cabbage. To head off potential unrest – or even a kimchi revolution – the Seoul city government began a kimchi bailout program, assuming 30 percent of the cost of an emergency supply of cabbage it purchased from rural farmers.

The national government also grudgingly reduced tariffs on imported Chinese cabbage, betting, successfully, that more cabbage would bring prices back down. Fear of Chinese dominance over their national food supply, it turned out, didn’t trump Koreans’ love of spicy vegetables.

The developed world's ever-increasing appetite for meat is turning into an environmental catastrophe, as raising livestock to feed that appetite generates up to 20% of the greenhouse gases driving global warming, according to the UN. Photo: Foreign Policy/Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images

Insects: Many environmentalists advocate vegetarianism – or at least eating less meat – as a solution. But the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is asking consumers to consider another option: eating insects. An insect-based diet could provide just as much protein as meat (plus key vitamins and minerals) with far fewer emissions, the FAO says.

Breeding insects such as locusts, crickets, and mealworms emits one-tenth the amount of methane that raising livestock does, scientists say. The idea isn’t as far-out as one might think. More than 1,000 insects are already known to be eaten in about 80 percent of the world’s countries, though the idea remains a source of revulsion in the Western world.

The FAO  is putting its money where its mouth is, investing in insect-farming projects in Laos, where locusts and crickets are already popular delicacies. A world conference on insect eating is planned for 2013.

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Written by makanaka

April 29, 2011 at 19:17

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