I recently read an article in Discover magazine, while I was riding on an airplane, which attempted to explain how the world’s human population will need to adapt its eating habits over the next 30 years in order to sustain existence. I read Discover several times a year, mainly while sitting next to a stranger on an airplane, in an effort to appear that I am some type of scientific intellectual weirdo they would be better off not engaging in conversation.
“This is our first trip to the Caribbean!” the honeymooner in the straw hat and halter top to my right exclaimed on my Spring Break plane ride last month. “Have you been to Senor Frogs?”
“Grrrr. Years ago. It sucks. Speaking of amphibians, I am currently reading an article about the homeopathic uses of salamander saliva,” I muttered without making eye contact. She instantly returned to holding hands and making out with her newlywed husband, never speaking to me again other than to excuse herself the 11 times she got up to use the restroom.
Truth be known, I have never remotely understood a single thing I have ever perused in Discover. The articles generally start out somewhat worldly and entertaining, such as approximating when Yellowstone Park will explode and instantly incinerate everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, or when a meteor the size of Mars will land directly on top of my house and blow me into smithereens (spoiler alert: you and everything else in the world, other than the cockroaches and Tiger Woods, will perish along with me). Then they get downright weird. If you are not aware of Discover magazine, I suggest you check it out. It paints a much more optimistic picture of the future of humanity than other airport magazines, such as People or Entertainment Weekly.
Anyway, after the honeymooner passed out cold following her sixth Bloody Mary and final staggering trip to the head, and after I was able to shove her bare feet out of my private space, I delved deeper into my magazine. The piece I found most alarming announced that by the year 2050 (31 years from now, .00001 to the nth degree in real universe time, it was explained), there will be an additional two billion people on earth, sharing tables with the more than seven billion who already eat here. I can guarantee you that none of these new people will be my children. I have had an operation. I hope that just several of them are my grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, as long as I don’t have to babysit or feed any of these newcomers with any regularity. The article indicated there will almost certainly become a lack of available protein in our future world to sustain such a massive horde of hungry gastronomists. All of the cows and pigs will have been barbecued. Every bit of the poultry will have been handed out from the drive-through windows at Chik-Fil-A. A lot of it will remain rotting in the backseat of my daughter’s car, still in the cardboard boxes.
Discovery magazine’s solution? Start eating bugs. I was sickened to learn that about two billion of our world’s current living gourmands are already keyed into this diet, regularly sitting down to a feast of grasshoppers, crickets, termites and the aptly-named mealworms. Almost all of these people reside in countries that don’t have a Golden Corral and White Castle at every interstate exit, so their choices of really bad food are limited. An esteemed entomologist by the name of Marcel Dicke (that is actually his name) was quoted in the article, lecturing that Westerners currently have “an obligation, even a responsibility, to start eating insects on a daily basis.”
With all due respect to Dr. Dicke, I already have enough terrible and feckless responsibilities on my platter: showing up to court on time; filing tax returns; buying an orchid for my mother every year on Mother’s Day and having it overturn and spill dirt all over the floor of my car on the way home. I’m not about to bypass my weekly trip to Taco Bell in favor of going home to devour a plate of writhing praying mantises.
I am ashamed to report that my wife has eaten bugs before, or more correctly, arachnids as Dr. Dicke and Discover magazine would have you know. She is the youngest of three sisters and has confided in me that, as a child, she was regularly bullied by her older siblings and other neighborhood thugs, and was forced to swallow grand-daddy longlegs. This explains why, when I was told, “you may kiss the bride” during our marriage ceremony, I responded, “I’d really rather not. She used to have spiders in her mouth.”
I finished the Discover article and dozed off to sleep. In my nightmare, I found my future self in the year 2050, 85-years-old, a hundred pounds lighter, standing in line at Cricket-Fil-A, preparing to order the grand-daddy longlegs salad. Then the meteor hit....
Homeboy, aka Columbia attorney Doug Pugh, is the father of two daughters. Beyond that, it gets weird. He’s a Kewpie married to a Bruin, a graduate of both MU’s journalism and law schools and is working to become domesticated for the sake of his wife and the girls.