Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/547

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THIS subject may appear to some, if not all of you, a rather peculiar one. The eating of insect-flesh is entirely repugnant to our feelings, and at once arouses all our natural and inherited antipathies. Even those who accept literally the Mosaic history of the creation as set forth in the book of Genesis, are loath to take advantage of the permissory bill of fare granted by Divine authority in the book of Leviticus. In the eleventh chapter of Leviticus, verses 1, 21, and 22, will be found these words:

1. "And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them: . . .

21. "Yet these may ye eat, of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

22. "Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind."

Other references may be found in the Bible to the use of locusts as food. In one place in particular, in Mark i, 6, we read that "John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey."

From these passages we learn that in olden times locusts were considered to be an article of food. And wild honey, which is an insect product, is highly prized by both aboriginal and civilized communities even to this day. In no one particular are we so much the creatures of custom and habit as in eating. That which is a delicacy to one is disgusting to another. The food relished by one nation or tribe may be spurned by another as loathsome. The inhabitants of the interior and mountains are often nauseated by the toothsome dishes of the denizens of the coast. A knowledge of the habits of certain animals (I use the term "animals" in its biological sense as distinguished from plants) often gives rise to an unconquerable abhorrence of the use of their flesh as food. To show how empirical are man's standards of edibles, it will only be necessary to cite a few instances. Beef, for example, is an almost universal article of food. But, should I place before my readers a roast of beef and tell them that this meat was taken from an animal that was accidentally drowned yesterday, my guests would very likely be indignant as well as disgusted, while at the same sitting they would eat and praise the flavor of a fish caught upon the same date and then left to drown in the air, if I may use the term, while it flops about and writhes with all the intensity of agony of which its low nervous organization is capable. We dote