Over the years, I have been feasted on by bugs of all kinds. From the incessant midges of western Scotland to the ruthless mosquitos of rural Ontario – and even a stray cat’s fleas – I’ve been punctured, sucked, bitten, harassed and generally driven to distraction. The only time I’ve eaten a bug, on the other hand, was by accident while cycling with my mouth open. It wasn’t a great introduction to entomophagy, but I’m more than willing to try some expertly prepared insect cuisine – starting with one of those tasty‑looking peppers stuffed with rice and fried waxworms pictured on the front cover.
Insects aren’t a novelty (or revenge) food item, though. They are a common and long‑standing component of many food cultures. Not only are they nutritious and healthy, but the process of raising them holds significant advantages for the planet over that for other forms of protein, such as beef. Alumnus Andrew Brentano is helping to drive this sustainable approach to our food supply in North America (see page 16). Based in California, he’s set up an online forum for sharing information on rearing insects for human consumption and has established a company offering kits for households to use in producing their own supply. In conjunction with this grassroots approach, Brentano is also exploring scalable models of insect production for industrial‑scale output. “We’re in the early stages of something that is about to blow up and get huge,” he says.
Brentano is not the only individual at the forefront of change to feature in this issue. In 1913, Dr. Frank Wesbrook was appointed first president of UBC, the province’s first university. Envisioning a “people’s university” that would build a “better social fabric,” he set about overseeing construction of a new campus at Point Grey, developing programs, stocking the library and hiring faculty in preparation for the opening in 1915. But with the outbreak of war in 1914, construction was interrupted and funding became scarce. UBC started its operations from “temporary” headquarters near 12th Avenue and Laurel Street, and over the ensuing months hundreds of students, as well as some faculty, would volunteer to serve in Europe. Wesbrook encouraged the student soldiers to write back with news, which he would make available to their peers at home (see page 28). He responded promptly, often stressing his anticipation of their return, when the university, and Canada, could benefit from their leadership and build a better society.
Tragically, 78 students would not return home, and Frank Wesbrook wouldn’t live long enough to see the end of the war, but the university he founded continued to evolve as he had envisioned. It was Wesbrook who chose UBC’s enduring motto, Tuum Est – It’s up to you – perhaps a challenge from a pioneer to be pioneering. He probably would have approved of enterprising and socially responsible alumni like Andrew Brentano. So in a way, when you find yourself about to nibble on your first waxworm – and apparently they taste like honey‑glazed bacon – you’ll have Frank Wesbrook to thank.
Vanessa Clarke, Editor