Insect Chef, Herb Entrepreneur and Anti-Nuke Atomic Scientist

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Photo by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff
Profiles: Environmental hero.

In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over, including an insect chef, herb entrepreneur and an anti-nuke atomic scientist.

Insect Chef, Herb Entrepreneur and Anti-Nuke Atomic Scientist

In celebration of little-known MOTHER-type folks from all over.

Barbara Carter: Insect Chef

If you’d like to add something “far out” to your family’s ho-hum, day-to-day menu, perhaps Californian Barbara J. Carter can pass along a suggestion or two. The reason: Ms. Carter (along with co-author Ronald L. Taylor) has recently published an interesting new cookbook entitled Entertaining With Insects. (Yes, you read it right: Those creepy, crawly, six-legged critters you usually work so hard to keep out of the kitchen are being reinvited in . . . as the main course!)

This 30-year-old high school science teacher has developed 85 recipes with either one or another variety of bug as a major ingredient. And — surprise of surprises — her various taste-testers actually seem to like the fare. She says her son and daughter, for example, are crazy about most of the treats. And when she entertains, guests always prefer delectables like “Cricket Rumaki” and “Sauteed Bacon-Pepper Bees” over the traditional onion dip and cheese spreads.

“Although people in many other countries are open to the idea of cooking with insects,” Barbara says, “Americans still have some hangups about the idea . . . even though we eat bugs in our food every day without being aware that we do. For instance, almost any chocolate consumed in this country contains — with the government’s OK — a few ground up insects (probably the only nutritional point in its favor). Also, lettuce lice are seldom washed from the leaves we eat . . . they simply add more protein to our meals.”

So, armed with that knowledge, Barbara set out to stretch the accidental-bug-in-your-food protein benefit to its extreme by intentionally creating dishes stocked with the critters. According to her calculations, insects provide “meat” far more efficiently than other livestock: [1] Approximately one-half cup of insects nutritionally equals one full cup of beef . . . after fat, bones, and all the additional waste products are removed. And [2] certain species of bugs can be raised in a shoebox — a sort of closet insect ranch — rather than on a multi-acre farm.

Most of the recipes in Entertaining With Insects call for bees, mealworms, and crickets. (Barbara personally favors protein — rich mealworms for cooking — but claims that they’re very fattening: She says she once gained about five pounds eating the larvae.) And the ingredients are available in great abundance: Humans, you know, are outnumbered by bugs about 200,000 to 1. The hitch, of course, is how to round up enough of the tiny creatures to feed an entire family. Carter — a former farm girl — suggests that you turn the project into a family field trip in the country, complete with butterfly nets and glass containers!

“Chocolate Chirpies” and “Cricket Pot Pie” may not appeal to a good number of Americans (even natural food buffs) — and most definitely won’t cure the “junk food” mania that’s hit our nation — but Barbara Carter is nevertheless seriously spreading the word about such recipes’ nutritional benefits. For a copy of her 160-page paperback, send $3.95 to Woodbridge Press Publishing Co., Dept. TMEN, P.O. Box 6189, Santa Barbara, California, 93111.

— Rita Busby

Eugene Hughes: Herb Entrepreneur

Ulcers aren’t generally considered assets . . . but if Utah public schoolteacher Eugene J. Hughes hadn’t been afflicted with one in 1965, the country’s largest and most successful herb capsulating company would never have been launched.

Thirteen years ago, when Gene’s doctors advised surgery for his painful duodenal ulcer, this soft-spoken natural foods advocate decided to buck accepted practices and try a friend’s cayenne pepper therapy instead. Twice a day he religiously choked down spoonfuls of the searing spice (purchased right off the supermarket shelf) . . . and in the end his watering eyes and stinging throat were justified. The ulcer stabilized, healed, and finally vanished.

Hughes was satisfied, but his wife Kristine wasn’t. “There has to be a less unpleasant way to ingest cayenne,” she insisted. “Wouldn’t it be easier to swallow in a capsule? And wouldn’t a health food store be likely to stock herbs in that form? “

The two checked the possibility out, without much luck. Stores in their area, it seemed, marketed herbs — and stocked capsules — but only sold the items separately. “Well, then,” Kristine said, “We’ll just have to put them together ourselves, won’t we? And while we’re at it, why not capsulate other beneficial herbs as well . . . and sell them.”

So Amtec Industries, Inc. of Provo, Utah was born . . . in Gene’s garage . . . with a very few store-bought herbs and capsules. The Hugheses did have one valuable advantage, however: plenty of willing helping hands in their large and close-knit family (two brothers, a brother-in-law, and-of course-their wives).

In its first year, the infant industry earned a not “particularly” grand total of $3,251.04. But due to the hard work put in, the quality product offered, and the need that existed, the company grew (to a current 1,000,000 — capsules-a-day production schedule). And it’s now expanded into four divisions — National Multi-Corp., Multi-Nutrition Labs, Bi-World Publishers, Inc., and Microlith, Inc., all involved with beneficial herbs, natural foods, and allied subjects. This year, gross sales are expected to exceed 88 million!

Now that’s proof that a family-owned bootstrap home business (even one dealing exclusively with more “natural” living) can succeed . . . and succeed impressively.

— Michael Frank

Carl Hocevar: Anti-Nuke Atomic Scientist

Carl Hocevar is like many of us: He refuses to believe the atomic industry when it promises safe and flawless operation of nuclear power plants. But what sets this individual apart from millions of other anti-nuke activists around the world is that he can speak as an insider: a nuclear safety expert who worked from 1967 to 1974 for Aerojet Nuclear Company, a subcontractor for the Atomic Energy Commission.

As Senior Engineer/Associate Scientist involved in designing computer codes for analyzing reactor safety systems, Hocevar discovered that nuclear plants are not as “safe” as the industry’s high-pressure propagandists insist they are. And he further observed that the public was not being told the truth about nuclear reactor safety . . . that only favorable test results were ever released. The failures and uncertainties — which were hidden from “outsiders” through skillful public relations, but which he was fully aware existed — led him to conclude that “it’s only a matter of time before the weaknesses in atomic plant safety systems lead to an accident of serious consequences”.

So in 1974 Hocevar “dropped out” of the nuclear industry and joined the staff of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science/public interest group based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From this new position, he’s able to criticize freely the so-called “peaceful atom” . . . and to stress (paraphrasing Albert Einstein’s oft-quoted statement) that the issue “be taken to the village square” for the people to hear and study and decide.

And the arguments Hocevar presents “to the people” are indeed weighty. Using incidents such as Brown’s Ferry (where a single candle caused a fire which disabled most of a nuke’s safety systems) to dramatize the inadequacy of accepted safeguards, he pounds home the point that no one — as yet — can justify such risks on either a scientific or a moral level.

What’s more, Carl contends that expansion of the nuclear program is economically impractical. “Except in New England where oil has been the primary generating fuel,” Hocevar charges, “nuclear power appears to have almost no economic advantage. Continued plant shutdowns, the rising cost of construction, and skyrocketing fuel prices will eventually make nuclear power economically unviable as a future power source.”

Then, too, environmental complications have to be considered. “Even if we never build another nuclear plant — either government or commercial — we have atomic waste here and now . . . and we’ve got to find a solution for its safe disposal.”

The alternative? It’s pretty clear-cut as far as Hocevar and his associates at the Union of Concerned Scientists are concerned. They’re currently working up a report on the prospects of solar energy and believe — after much research — that a future dependent on solar/wind energy is perfectly feasible.

“We can have either a breeder future . . . or a solar/wind future,” this man-in-the-know states “if it were up to me, I know for sure which one I would choose.”

— Bill Hanley