Episode 39: Edible Insects and Human Evolution with Dr. Julie Lesnik

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Why do some cultures get squeamish at the idea of eating bugs when other cultures use them as dietary staples? There are a lot of biases, particularly for Western folks, about what animals are and are not edible, and my guest this week, Dr. Julie Lesnik, is here to unpack these cultural attitudes around edible insects!

Julie is from Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan and researches the evolution of the human diet. She focuses particularly on the role of insects as food. She is the author of the book Edible Insects and Human Evolution and recently launched a fabulous and fun science communication channel on YouTube called Octopus & Ape.  The show brings Julie’s love of all things life-science outside of the classroom and to the broader public in a fun and informative way.

I’ll admit going into this interview, I had a lot of biases around the idea of edible insects because of growing up as a Westerner, and Julie is great at pushing folks to think more about the powerful cultural, political, social, environmental dimensions to eating bugs. We also explore what she describes as the ugly history that Westerners have when it comes to their relationships with bugs, and she unpacks some of the harmful ways colonialism has influenced not just our own perspectives on edible insects, but negatively impacted other cultures to present day.

Check out the full episode in the player above, or download on any major podcasting platform!