Are Food Prices Starting To Bug You?

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Real-life headline from CNN.com: "Empathy deficit disorder -- do you suffer from it?"

No, I don't, and you know what else? I don't care about anybody who does.

On to our next real-life headline: "Americans Question Pursuit of Happiness."

Now I do have some empathy for people who feel this way (See? I told you I didn't have an empathy deficit), but they need to ask themselves: What other state of mind should I pursue?

Anger? Melancholy? Boredom? Homicidal rage? Happiness has its limitations, but these others aren't all what they're cracked up to be either.

(Historical note: In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote about the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of silliness," but Benjamin Franklin, with the help of his laptop thesaurus, nixed that and substituted "giddiness" and then "absurdity" -- which were both narrowly defeated by the Continental Congress -- before finally settling on "happiness." Jefferson never got over it.)

Next up in our review of recent headlines is one that holds out the hope of eating better, saving money and helping the environment.

Sound too good to be true?

Well, you're in for a treat: "Eat more insects, scientists say." Yup, it's that easy.

According to the article, "Grasshoppers have 20 grams of protein and just 6 g of fat." The good news doesn't stop there. Ants are even lower in fat and crickets are good sources of iron, zinc and calcium.

What's more, crickets are easy to raise on farms and take much less feed to produce the same amount of protein as chicken.

As the article says, bugs are the "original white meat" (though I think their definitions of "white meat" might be more inclusive than mine).

Not that there aren't some downsides to bug-raising. Being a cowboy on a cricket ranch is much less romantic and rewarding than working a cattle ranch, not to mention that crickets are notoriously hard to lasso. Branding is both time-consuming and tedious.

And cowboys hoping to hone their bronco-riding skills are out of luck, unless they're fortunate enough to be working a ranch that raises truly enormous crickets.

But just think what a boon bug cuisine would be for our nation's chefs, who must constantly search for fresh ingredients.

What could be fresher than bugs straight from your own kitchen?

Restaurants could boast, "The roaches you dine on tonight enjoyed breakfast in our kitchen this morning."

At family restaurants, buffets -- instead of relying on traditional road-kill recipes to hold costs down -- could offer heaping bowls of all-you-can-eat ants, crickets, grasshoppers and roaches, with everybody's favorite, Centipedes Jubilee, for dessert.

At fancier restaurants, people could pick out live bugs they wanted prepared especially for them from an ant farm brought to their table by the headwaiter.

I suppose some people might feel too much empathy for the bugs to be able to pick them out, but I just don't have much empathy for those people.

Write to Don Flood in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mails to dflood287@comcast.net.

© 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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