Shrimp vs. Crickets: How Can Eating Insects Save the World?

Shrimp is a popular food source all over the world. They are healthy due to their high calcium, omega-3, protein and they are deliciously easy to prepare. Shrimp has been America’s most popular seafood for many years; in 2014 the average amount of shrimp eaten per person annually was 1.8 kilos! Despite being one of the most common allergens, shrimp are considered a delicacy and are very much in demand worldwide.

Shrimp is a popular food source all over the world. They are healthy due to their high calcium, omega-3, protein and they are deliciously easy to prepare. Shrimp has been America’s most popular seafood for many years; in 2014 the average amount of shrimp eaten per person annually was 1.8 kilos! Despite being one of the most common allergens, shrimp are considered a delicacy and are very much in demand worldwide.

So why do people love eating many-legged, large-eyed, trash-eating sea creatures but think crickets are disgusting?

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Shrimp have more legs than insects: 5 pairs of walking legs, 5 pairs of swimming legs and 3 pairs of “arms” that they use to feed. They have hard exoskeleton and soft bodies just like insects. They also eat plankton and other ocean waste. While it is lobsters that are considered the cockroaches of the sea, shrimp can easily be compared to a variety of insects including crickets.

Similarities:

Research has shown that people who are allergic to shrimp/shellfish are also allergic to crickets and other insects. Crickets are an even better sources of protein and omega-3 than shrimp. They also have countless of other health benefits including being rich in iron, calcium (a great non-dairy source of calcium!), they are low in fat but have dietary fiber which is not common in the other animals eaten in the west.

The main difference:

Harvesting enough shrimp to feed our shrimp-crazed world has some devastating consequences on the planet. While eating insects is considered ecologically friendly, shrimp are either caught in the wild or farmed and both methods have their setbacks.

Farmed shrimp are often kept in coast side pools so that the tide can carry away the waste and refresh the water. This means that chemicals such as superphosphate, diesel, pesticides and antibiotics pollute the fresh water in the area. In addition to this, a 2014 estimate shows that 38% of the world’s mangroves were destroyed by shrimp farmers to create the ponds.

Catching wild shrimp on the other hand kills between 5 and 18 kilos of “bycatch” for every kilo of shrimp. Bycatch is basically unwanted species that get caught accidentally and includes sharks, sea turtles, star fish, rays and many more. Wild shrimp is also not inspected by the FDA, so the 162 varieties of bacteria (resistant to 10 different antibiotics) can end up on your plate.

How is farming or catching crickets better?

According to the Edible Bug Farm, “Insect farming uses a tiny fraction of the feed, water and land needed to raise traditional livestock such as cattle or pigs. Since bugs are not mammals, they are also much less likely to transfer diseases to us.”

Not only does farming crickets require few resources, but it also requires very little space. It is even possible to purchase desktop farms that are fed on kitchen scraps. Livin Farms has created a Hive that produces up to 500 grams of mealworms every two weeks.

Plus, insects reproduce at incredible rates and reach adulthood quickly, so it is easy to grow many insects in a short amount of time and keep repopulating it. Farming and catching insects can even have socio-cultural benefits in developing countries including providing jobs for women and the elderly.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let these three infographics summarize the benefits of cricket farming and conclude why crickets are better than shrimp (and cows, pigs, chickens, etc.)

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My 10 Favorite Excuses for Not Going to the Gym

Rainy weather can be pretty depressing. And wet. But…

You have an umbrella, don’t you? You’re not a witch so you won’t melt if a droplet falls on your head, right? I hope so…

My goal is to go to the gym 5 times a week: Monday – Friday during my lunch break. I began this routine in Prague when my gym was a 10-minute walk from my office. Now I live in China and I work from home which makes me lazy and full of excuses.

Here are my favorite ones:

1. I have WAY too much work

This is one of my most popular excuses because it’s the easiest to justify. I can’t just walk away from my unread emails and intimidatingly long To-Do list to go to the gym, right? WRONG!

Taking a break, especially one involving physical activity helps clear your head and work more productively. Plus you can always stay later to finish the work!

2. My head hurts.

That sucks but how bad is a headache? Will taking a walk in the fresh air help it go away? You can probably still take it easy and try the elliptical or stationary bike. Or you can just do some stretching, yoga or even meditate.

If it’s a bad headache, exercise can make it worse – but it can also decrease pain due to the release of endorphins. Just walk on over to the gym and see what happens.

3. But it’s raining outside… 

Rainy weather can be pretty depressing. And wet. But…

You have an umbrella, don’t you?
You’re not a witch so you won’t melt if a droplet falls on your head, right?

Just make sure to keep your sneakers clean or you might not be let into the gym!

4. Ouch! I’m sore from going to the gym yesterday :'(

Good! You’re doing something right!

Do your legs hurt? Skip the treadmill and lift some weights or do some sit-ups.
Do your arms hurt? Hit the treadmill.

Does your ENTIRE body hurt? Really? Well, then you’re probably doing something wrong… and you should stretch more before and after exercising.

5. There are too many men at my gym O.O

Most women don’t enjoy being ogled by sweaty men. And I happen to be one of those girls. Luckily I live in China where men (and women) are generally more interested in starting at their phones… or poking each other’s six-packs. So at most, they will glance at you and then leave you alone.

6. Ugh, there’s no air-conditioning!

It’s ALWAYS either too hot or too cold

When it was 40°C (and felt like 50°C) the gym was almost unbearable with no air-conditioning. But it was still possible to do a little of everything: run a kilometer, lift some weights, do some stretching.

Unfortunately, it’s a myth that sweating more helps you lose more weight – but there are health benefits.

7. My knees, hips and/or back hurt. I can’t do it…

I’m only 24 but I have deformed kneecaps, gout arthritis and lots of other fun problems. Sometimes I start running and my knees hurt immediately.

On good days I’ll continue running until the pain stops. On bad days I’ll get off the treadmill and do something else. There is ALWAYS something else you can do at the gym.

8. My hair looks great! I don’t want to mess it up.

I just washed my hair and I don’t want to have to wash it again. Yes, this is really one of the excuses I use. Go to the gym – if you’re really too lazy to wash your hair again, don’t do cardio and just lift weights or do something that won’t make you sweat as much.

But seriously, how long does it take to wash your hair?

9. My hair is gross… I’m too embarrassed to be seen!

Yup, another ridiculous excuse I like to use. First of all, gyms are NOT runways. You’re expected to look gross at the gym. Just put a hat on or something. Or go wash it…

10. But my sports bra is in the wash… *wobble*

It’s either my sports bra, my favorite running pants or my sneakers. Wearing the wrong clothes CAN make it harder to do certain exercises. You can fix this from the start – buy two or three sets of everything.

If you need to wear something uncomfortable, just focus on exercises where it doesn’t matter. Just don’t ever run in the wrong shoes or without socks – you will 100% regret it and it can even injure you.

What are YOUR favorite/most convincing excuses???

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Entoveganism: Veganism with a Six-legged Twist

“Curiosity, disgust and confusion,” is how some vegans respond to Josh’s creepy-crawly twist on the strict no animal product diet. While both veganism and entomophagy are growing trends around the world, Josh may be the first to combine them. ‘Entoveganism’ may sound like an oxymoron but it is the most accurate description for this unique diet.

Veganism, sometimes referred to as a plant-based-diet, has gained popularity for several reasons. Some studies have linked obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure to consuming processed animal products. Large-scale farming is also incredibly cruel to animals and causes irreparable damage to the environment. Health, love for animals and environmental impact are the top three reasons that people go vegan.

“A friend convinced me to give a plant-based diet a chance for a few months, and I was willing to do it,” Josh explained, “When I noticed really positive changes in my body after about six weeks of mostly just eating vegan, I decided to do it for the rest of the year, but incorporate insects into my diet as a larger percentage of what I was eating.”

Recently, a lot of athletes have given their vegan diets credit for theirmproved performances: 300-pound offensive tackle Trent Williams in the NFL, Kyrie Irving in the NBA, and the Willaims Sisters in tennis, to name a few. But if a vegan diet is already so effective, why eat insects? Health, according to Josh.

“I feel better than I have in years! My muscles recover quickly, I’m getting gains in the gym, my overall athletic ability has improved, my energy levels are great and I sleep well,” Josh lists the benefits of his entovegan diet. “I also had a big cyst on my back that I’d had for a couple of years that went away on its own just a few weeks into going vegan.”

Many vegans describe these positive effects without incorporating insects into their diets, but edible insects are not just great for health. Replacing meat with insects can have a great impact on our environment too and even on our economy. Developing countries can transform insect-farming as well as wild insect catching into a family. In Kenya, for example, women and the elderly sometimes support their families by selling edible insects.

When it comes to health, edible insects are more than just nutritious. Some studies show that mealworms contain an enzyme that can cure Alzheimer’s disease and we are still in the extremely early stages of research in this area.

“Are there cures for diseases, are there bugs high in antioxidants, are there superfood insects, is there some bug with a really fast life-cycle that is the perfect nutritional profile for humans?” Josh ponders. “Those questions are on the back burner for most people, but if the world were entovegan, that’d be a much higher priority. Because trust me, eating crickets every single day gets old after a while.”

As Josh points out, there are now a recorded 2,1 types of edible insects in the world. However, outside of black soldier fly larvae, crickets and mealworms, few make headlines or investments. There are many unknowns in the entomophagy industry, including the allergens, which can be a turn off for many people. So far, only a few types of insects have been studied thoroughly enough to determine that they are allergenic to people who are also allergic to shellfish.

“One of my biggest interests in the industry is finding out what other nutritional powerhouses are hidden among those other 2,000 insects that we don’t know about yet. From what we do know, it’s an extremely promising food source. If toasted cricket chips start to replace MSG-covered GMO corn chips, for example, it’s going to be a good thing for people’s diet in general.”

Although eating insects can seem extreme and unnatural to many people, it wasn’t that long ago that sushi was considered disgusting, and lobster was thought of as food for poor people and prisoners. Lobster is a great example because it’s essentially the cockroach of the ocean that eats trash, not to mention plastic that ends up in the ocean.

“Jay-Z and Beyonce now eat lobsters combined with $1,000 bottles of bubbly,” Josh points out. Hopefully in a few years or decades people will be serving gourmet insects at high-end events that pair wine and insects.

“Insects are far more sustainable than lobster, and arguably even more nutritious, so the shift will happen, but it’s going to take time,” Josh concludes. Learn more about entoveganism, Josh and his journey to a healthier lifestyle at www.entovegan.com.

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My Beauty Farm: Natural Cosmetics in Shanghai

“Ooh, this skin cream looks great,” I have thought on many occasions while strolling through the malls of Shanghai. I lift the product off the shelf and glance at the label out of habit even though I don’t understand a word. More times than I care to admit, I actually took it home and put it on my skin. Big mistake.

Common ingredients in Chinese products include toxic skin whitening chemicals (sometimes even found in deodorant), lead and even arsenic. It doesn’t help if you’re shopping for a brand you already know – sometimes the product is fake. Unfortunately, China isn’t the only country that puts dangerous, unnecessary and often unethical ingredients in their beauty products – this happens all over the world.

Do you want products made with natural ingredients that will make you look, smell and feel beautiful? Back away from that Sephora basket, walk towards the nearest exit and come meet Severine Clement, owner of My Beauty Farm.

Severine was born in France and moved to Shanghai ten years ago where she now lives with her husband and two children. After just one year in this cosmopolitan city of 24 million people, she began making her own cosmetics because she was frustrated with the products she was buying.

“The range of choices was so wide that I never knew if the product I was buying was the best suited for my skin,” Severine explained. “In addition to this, I was not comfortable not knowing what I was applying to my skin.”

She had always been interested in simple cosmetics and was willing to take the time to learn how to make customized cosmetics from natural, pure (and mostly organic) ingredients. Severine had to learn all this by herself because there weren’t any classes that taught how to make DIY natural cosmetics.

At first she would strictly follow recipes that she found online while researching the properties, benefits and uses of various natural ingredients. Later she began adjusting the recipes to suit her own skin and preferences which led to her creating totally new recipes!

“I like selecting the ingredients, creating my own personalized products and adjusting the recipes according to my skin’s needs. I always feel good after hand-crafting my own products. And I like knowing that I’m treating my skin with the best quality ingredients.”

My Beauty Farm is unique because Severine regularly changes her recipes and the products she sells because she adapts them to each customer. She is happy to cater to vegan clients and in general, most of her clients are eco-conscious. In addition to selling quality natural products, she also hosts the very DIY workshops that she wishes she could have attended nine years ago!

“My mission is to empower women to take control of their beauty by sharing my expertise, knowledge and recipes,” Severine says. So far, she has hosted over 60 workshops that have welcomed more than 300 visitors. Although her clients are all based in Shanghai, they come from all over the world.

She organizes workshops two or three times a month and thoroughly enjoys the contact with people as well as teaching something she is passionate about. Now that her kids are getting older, she is slowly introducing them to her hobby by helping them make their own cosmetics. She even organizes DIY workshops for children!

“I believe that everyone’s skin is unique, so I provide one-on-one advice to my customers,” Severine says. Some of her favorite ingredients include rosehip carrier oil, geranium, essential oil, cacao butter and rose floral water.

I myself discovered Severine when I was in search of vegan essential oils. I had purchased several essential oils on Taobao but wasn’t quite satisfied. The peppermint oil that I got from her is light and fragrant; I’ve worn it every day as perfume and I’m looking forward to discovering its many health benefits.

Find out more about My Beauty Farm and Severine’s DIY workshops on her Facebook page or add her on WeChat (ID = SeverineClement).

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Living in Huaqiao: Basic Beauty 101 (Guest Post)

Keeping chic in Huaqiao isn’t easy when all the elements are against you! Here’s some tips…

Written by Julee Range, this is a chapter of the KCIS Survival Guide. This guide was sent to all new teachers coming to teach at the Kang Chiao International School in Huaqiao.

A Health and Beauty Survival Guide

So you’re stepped off the plane and set foot in one of the largest metropolises in the world. Modern, massive and hop, Shanghai is truly a city where you can find almost any western beauty treatment or service you could ever want. From balayage to Brazilians, the city is littered with high-end salons, staffed with savvy professionals, who all speak reasonable English. Everything you could possible need to keep your look sophisticated,s harp and fly.

Uhhh… but here’s the problem… you don’t live in central Shanghai. You live in Huaqiao and you work… a lot. So spending over an hour on the subway and 200 RMB just to keep your eyebrows on fleek might get old… fast.

Rural, tiny and rough, Huaqiao is simply a small town where haute couture includes wearing your pajamas in public, beauty salons are few and far between and 99.99% of people in the service industry don’t speak any English at all. This can make routine health and beauty maintenance a tedious, tedious nightmare.

Warning! After a couple months in this town, it’s very easy to start letting yourself go and it’ll happen before you even realize it. You’ll just wake up one day an overly hairy, unkempt version of your former sleek self… home on a Saturday night, stuffing your newly chubby face with dumplings filled with something strange you randomly pointed to off the menu (because you still won’t know Chinese) … trying to unsuccessfully stream a movie through exceptionally shitty internet, while rocking gnarly, fuzzy PJs and split ends. Yikes. Sick.

If this image doesn’t appeal to you… there are a few hidden gems in town and simple tips I recommend.

10 Tips On How to NOT Become Ratchet in Huaqiao

  1. When you get your haircut locally, bring photos with you to the salon. A lot of photos. And add your hairdresser on WeChat so you can communicate (via translator) with them during the process. Keep pointing from the pictures to your hair… repeatedly. Sometimes they like to forget about the picture.

  2. Don’t buy an e-bike right away. Walk or “real bike” as much as you can. Once you get an e-bike your days of using your legs are over.

  3. Join a gym. Go to the gym you joined. Make a friend. Go to the gym together. (MegaFit and Start Fitness are both good options. The school gym can get crowded during the week.)

  4. Don’t eat rice with school lunch (or don’t eat school lunch at all.) Unless you’re used to eating white rice everyday… bodies don’t tend to do well with excesses of unfamiliar carbs.

  5. Wash your face as much as possible. The pollution will age you decades. Also, facial masks and sunscreen go a long way. Shop at Watson’s in Anting for quality face products.

  6. Buy membership cards/accounts at the local salons (listed below). You get free services and/or discounts to keep you routinely groomed.

  7. Shop online. You can purchase current/trendy fashions at reasonable prices and in western sized. DON’T look around you for fashion trends. It’s so tacky it will start to grow on you.

  8. Routinely do hair treatments or masks. The local water is very hard on your hair. Unless you wash your hair in Evian every day… you should take extra care to offset the damage.

  9. Get massages. You’re in Asia. Massages are cheap and they relieve stress. Stress makes you look like crap.

  10. Get out of Huaqiao as much as possible. Go to Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Xi’an. Go anywhere. Huaqiao is a bubble, don’t suffocate in it.

So where to get haircuts, facials nails and massages in your new hometown?

MegaFit Spa (located just inside the MegaFit Gym to the right, called Madlan)

Services: massages, facials, laser hair removal, cupping, steam baths, makeup tattooing, eyelash implants (yes, implants!), cellulite treatment and much, much more…

***Massages at Megafit are more western styles and more relaxing than local Chinese spots. The manager speaks some English and can help you with preferences and services. Membership packages are available. Also note that you do not need a gym membership to go to this salon.

U+ Nail Art (located behind McDonalds, near E-mart)

Services: manicures, pedicures, eyelash extensions, make-up tattooing, ‘facial water injection’ (whatever that is).

***The nail art at his salon is generally better than other places in town (depending on the technician). Also, they usually have 2-3 workers on staff is it’s better if you are going with friends, which is recommended because all the nail places take forever to gel nails. The owner, Sunny, speaks English and offers discount cards of 10 – 30 %. She is also the owner of the Korean restaurant a few doors down.

Purple Hair Salon (located near E-Mart, between U+ Nail Art and California Dream Bakery)

Services: haircuts, blow outs, hair steam treatments, color, cuts, magic strengthening and perms.

Nailed It! (Nair Care)

Nail season is a lot of fun! Halloween until Chinese New Year is the prime time to get some holiday inspired nail art! It’s always enjoyable to go with a friend and let’s be honest… there aren’t a lot of entertainment options during those cold winter months!

“I was having problems with my hair quality and when I went to an expat salon, I found out that one big cause is the chlorine used to treat water here. I bought a water filter and since then Chris’s hair has stopped falling outs and my highlights aren’t orange anymore! It costs about 800 RMB but lasts for six months with two people showering regularly.” – Kelly Shipman

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Four Health Benefits of Moving to China

Squat toilets, dangerous traffic, hard mattresses and sweating all summer long has it’s health benefits!

1. Improved Bowel Movement: Squat Toilets!

I admit that squatting over a hole in the ground is extremely weird if you’ve never done it before. However studies show that the squatting position is not only more hygienic but also healthier than sitting. Humans were “designed” to squat! Sitting actually stops the flows and tenses muscles that should be relaxed for everything to go smoothly. Don’t believe me? Here’s one of countless articles on the topic.

Just imagine how much better the world would be if everyone squatted. There are even social benefits like not arguing about leaving the toilet seat up. In fact, no one would ever have to touch a toilet seat again! Not sure how to do it without making a mess? Read an article with tips on how to do it right!

2. Staying Young Forever with Adrenaline Rushes: Crossing the Road is an Adventure!

This may not be true for every city in China, but Huaqiao has some pretty unique driving norms. On my very first day here I was told to do the following:

•    Ignore traffic lights – no one respects them so relying on them is dangerous
•    Look both ways when crossing the road even if it’s one way
•    Practice constant vigilance near cars, e-bikes or tuk tuks

In just one week I’ve witnessed a car accident involving a tuk tuk and seen dozens of e-bikes driving fearlessly in the wrong direction on busy roads full of fast cars. It’s pretty easy to get that daily dose of adrenaline every time I leave the apartment, so I’m excited to discover that it can protect my body and mind from the effects of aging. I’ll just have to avoid getting run over long enough to test the theory…

3. Achieving Perfect Spine Alignment – Hard Mattresses

The health benefits of sleeping on a firm mattress have been circulating media for years now. It can be extremely uncomfortable at first but anyone can get used to sleeping on a hard surface. Plus the benefits make the adjustment period worth it. To maximize health benefits, Chinese mattresses are made extra hard. To an inexperienced foreigner like myself, lying on one can be compared to lying on the floor – and not the soft carpeted kind.

Here are some Chinese mattresses tips for fellow newbies:
•    Do your best to give sleep on a hard mattress a change, it can only make you healthier
•    Expect a few sleepless nights and grumpy mornings
•    Don’t panic if you can’t sleep on a hard mattress, you can buy a soft one in IKEA
•    Don’t jump onto a hard mattress unless you live near the ER
•    Don’t expect to find a soft mattress in a Chinese furniture store*

* If someone allegedly knows a Chinese furniture store that sells soft mattresses, don’t get overly excited and make sure to knock on some wood (or your stone-hard mattress) to avoid jinxing your good fortune.

4. Daily Toxin Cleansing – Unlimited Sweating in 40°C Weather

It may be a myth that sweating helps eliminate toxins but there are plenty of other health benefits including an endorphin boost, cold prevention and decreased risk of kidney stones just to mention a few. This year has apparently been one of the hottest summers ever and my first week had a consistent temperature of high 30s & low 40s (100+°F) that felt like 50°C (122°F). It’s great to know that I’ll be very healthy until about early October!

There is also no regular Western deodorant in my city! So I don’t have worry about potentially cancerogenic substances found in most types of deodorants. This doesn’t mean I go around smelling bad, there are plenty of natural ways to keep from smelling bad – dabbing some baking soda on your armpits works wonders!

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