I met my fictional friend Emil on the Walk of Excellence. We both needed to work on our cholesterol, so we decided to visit and walk at the same time. Emil and I typically meander in our conversations. We began talking about Memorial Day.
“You know, Ed,” Emil began, “my dad served in the Marines during World War II. He saw some of his buddies killed before his eyes. He had horrible stories to tell, and he would often experience war nightmares. Human carnage traumatizes. When I read about what some of our soldiers suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t imagine it. Same with the other wars. By the way, was your dad in World War II?”
“Yes,” I replied with pride. “He served stateside in Army Intelligence at the tail end of the war. He processed Japanese prisoners of war. He didn’t see combat; but my uncles were older — and they did. One was in the Navy and the other in the Army Air Corps. The latter participated in the Battle of the Bulge.”
“You know, Ed, neither of us were in the military;
neither of us have seen war. We don’t have the camaraderie that those guys have. The horrors of war can bring death, dismemberment and a host of physical and psychological damages. Entire families suffer with these casualties. But those guys are heroes. And I respect ’em.”
“So do I,” I replied. “It’s great that our country celebrates Memorial Day to honor our war dead. We owe them our freedom and we appreciate their sacrifice. And so we should. We also need to show our respect to those who have served and are still with us. You know ...”
I stopped speaking midstream and began choking instead. A bug had flown into my mouth just as I was inhaling. After I gained my breath, I shouted at Emil, “Will you stop laughing? It isn’t funny!”
“Oh yes it is,” defended Emil. “As a matter of fact, you remind me of what I read the other day. Did you know that the average person ingests 104 insects per year while sleeping? Most of us try to avoid them while awake. Well, at least I do.”
“A friend of mine teaches here in Kokomo, and she ate a mealworm in front of her class to demonstrate its nutritional value,” I replied.
“You know,” Emil continued, “I happen to have an article about this stuff in my folder. Let’s see if I can dig it out.” Emil sat on a nearby bench as he shoveled through his ever-present briefcase. He finally unfolded a tattered page, printed off from Len Rosen’s 21st Century Tech blog. Emil began reading aloud:
“‘Today 2 billion humans supplement their daily diet with insects. Didn’t know that did you? The technical term for eating these creatures is entomophagy and a United Nations study outlines the benefits derived from this protein source as one way for humans to deal with forecast growth in our numbers over the next three decades. Some highlights from the report:
“‘... Insects are an excellent source of protein and nutrients when compared with meat and fish. They are high in fatty acids, rich in fiber, and their bodies contain copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc ... You can consume them whole, mash them up to make a paste, or grind them into a meal for use in baking and cooking.’”
“I hate to tell you this, Emil, but I was watching ‘Unwrapped’ on Food Network, and they said that red dye used in our food and soft drinks comes from a South American beetle. It is dried and ground up.”
“Gross,” Emil replied. “I eat some pretty exotic things, but I think I’ll stick to more traditional proteins, thank you. I won’t even eat raw fish. As they say, ‘One man’s sushi is another man’s bait.’”
“Amen,” I replied.
Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.