IELTS READING PRACTICE TEST PASSAGE 2: FOOD FOR THOUGHT

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A    Why not eat insects? So asked British entomologist Vincent M. Holt in the title of his 1885 treatise on the benefits of what he named entomophagy – the consumption of insects (and similar creatures) as a food source. The prospect of eating dishes such as “wireworm sauce” and “slug soup” failed to garner favour amongst those in the stuffy, proper, Victorian social milieu of his time, however, and Holt’s visionary ideas were considered at best eccentric, at worst an offense to every refined palate. Anticipating such a reaction, Holt acknowledged the difficulty in unseating deep-rooted prejudices against insect cuisine, but quietly asserted his confidence that “we shall some day quite gladly cook and eat them”.

B    It has taken nearly 150 years but an eclectic Western-driven movement has finally mounted around the entomophagic cause. In Los Angeles and other cosmopolitan Western cities, insects have been caught up in the endless pursuit of novel and authentic delicacies. “Eating grasshoppers is a thing you do here”, bugsupplier Bricia Lopez has explained. “There’s more of a ‘cool’ factor involved.” Meanwhile, the Food and Agricultural Organization has considered a policy paper on the subject, initiated farming projects in Laos, and set down plans for a world congress on insect farming in 2013.

C   Eating insects is not a new phenomenon. In fact, insects and other such creatures are already eaten in 80 per cent of the world’s countries, prepared in customary dishes ranging from deep-fried tarantula in Cambodia to bowls of baby bees in China. With the specialist knowledge that Western companies and organisations can bring to the table, however, these hand-prepared delicacies have the potential to be produced on a scale large enough to lower costs and open up mass markets. A new American company, for example, is attempting to develop pressurisation machines that would de-shell insects and make them available in the form of cutlets. According to the entrepreneur behind the company, Matthew Krisiloff, this will be the key to pleasing the uninitiated palate.

D    Insects certainly possess some key advantages over traditional Western meat sources. According to research findings from Professor Arnold van Huis, a Dutch entomologist, breeding insects results in far fewer noxious by-products. Insects produce less ammonia than pig and poultry farming, ten times less methane than livestock, and 300 times less nitrous oxide. Huis also notes that insects – being coldblooded creatures – can convert food to protein at a rate far superior to that of cows, since the latter exhaust much of their energy just keeping themselves warm.

E    Although insects are sometimes perceived by Westerners as unhygienic or disease-ridden, they are a reliable option in light of recent global epidemics (as Holt pointed out many years ago, insects are “decidedly more particular in their feeding than ourselves”). Because bugs are genetically distant from humans, species-hopping diseases such as swine flu or mad cow disease are much less likely to start or spread amongst grasshoppers or slugs than in poultry and cattle. Furthermore, the squalid, cramped quarters that encourage diseases to propagate among many animal populations are actually the residence of choice for insects, which thrive in such conditions.

F    Then, of course, there are the commercial gains. As FAO Forestry Manager Patrick Durst notes, in developing countries many rural people and traditional forest dwellers have remarkable knowledge about managing insect populations to produce food. Until now, they have only used this knowledge to meet their own subsistence needs, but Durst believes that, with the adoption of modern technology and improved promotional methods, opportunities to expand the market to new consumers will flourish. This could provide a crucial step into the global economic arena for those primarily rural, impoverished populations who have been excluded from the rise of manufacturing and large-scale agriculture.

G    Nevertheless, much stands in the way of the entomophagic movement. One problem is the damage that has been caused, and continues to be caused, by Western organisations prepared to kill off grasshoppers and locusts – complete food proteins – in favour of preserving the incomplete protein crops of millet, wheat, barley and maize. Entomologist Florence Dunkel has described the consequences of such interventions. While examining children’s diets as a part of her field work in Mali, Dunkel discovered that a protein deficiency syndrome called kwashiorkor was increasing in incidence. Children in the area were once protected against kwashiorkor by a diet high in grasshoppers, but these had become unsafe to eat after pesticide use in the area increased.

H    A further issue is the persistent fear many Westerners still have about eating insects. “The problem is the ick factor—the eyes, the wings, the legs,” Krisiloff has said. “It’s not as simple as hiding it in a bug nugget. People won’t accept it beyond the novelty. When you think of a chicken, you think of a chicken breast, not the eyes, wings, and beak.” For Marcel Dicke, the key lies in camouflaging the fact that people are eating insects at all. Insect flour is one of his propositions, as is changing the language of insect cuisine. “If you say it’s mealworms, it makes people think of ringworm”, he notes. “So stop saying ‘worm’. If we use Latin names, say it’s a Tenebrio quiche, it sounds much more fancy”. For Krisiloff, Dicke and others, keeping quiet about the gritty reality of our food is often the best approach. I It is yet to be seen if history will truly redeem Vincent Holt and his suggestion that British families should gather around their dining tables for a breakfast of “moths on toast”. It is clear, however, that entomophagy, far from being a kooky sideshow to the real business of food production, has much to offer in meeting the challenges that global societies in the 21st century will face.

Questions 14–21:

Reading Passage 2 has nine paragraphs, A–I.
Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A–H from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number, i–xi, in boxes 14–21 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
i        A historical delicacy
ii       The poor may benefit
iii      Presentation is key to changing attitudes
iv       Environmentally friendly production
v        Tradition meets technology
vi       A cultural pioneer
vii     Western practices harm locals
viii    Good source of nutrients
ix      Growing popularity
x       A healthy choice
xi      A safety risk

14    Section A
15    Section B
16    Section C
17    Section D
18    Section E
19    Section F
20   Section G
21    Section H

Questions 22–26:

Complete the notes below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 22–26 on your answer sheet.

Van Huis
• Insects are cleaner & do not release as many harmful gases
• Insects use food intake economically in the production of protein as they waste less 22 …………………
Durst
• Traditional knowledge could be combined with modern methods for mass production instead of just covering 23 …………………
• This could help 24 ………………… people gain access to world markets.

Dunkel
• Due to increased 25 …………………, more children in Mali are suffering from 26 …………………

ANSWERS

14. vi

  • It is stated in paragraph A that: “… British entomologist Vincent M. Holt in the title of his 1885 treatise on the benefits of what he named entomophagy– the consumption of insects (and similar creatures) as a food source. The prospect of eating dishes such as “wireworm sauce” and “slug soup” failed to garner favour amongst those in the stuffy, proper, Victorian social milieu of his time, however, and Holt’s visionary ideas were considered at best eccentric, at worst an offense to every refined palate. … ”.
  • The information given talks about Vincent M. Holt, who was the first person to propose the idea of entomophagy (eating insects). The idea was not widely-approved, because in the culture of that time, most people thought that it was either strange, or insulting to refined palates (people accustomed to eating expensive food).

=> The answer isvi – A cultural pioneer

15. ix

  • It is stated in section B that: “It has taken nearly 150 years but an eclectic Western-driven movement has finally mounted around the entomophagic cause. In Los Angeles and othercosmopolitan Western cities, insects have been caught up in the endless pursuit of novel and authentic delicacies. …”
    • caught up = became popular
  • The information given suggests that after one and a half centuries, the idea of eating insects has finally gained popularity, because in some cosmopolitan Western cities people are nowadays looking to try novel and authentic (traditional) dishes.

=> The answer is ix – Growing popularity

16. v

  • It is stated in section C that: “Eating insects is not a new phenomenon. In fact, insects and other such creatures are already eaten in 80 per cent of the world’s countries, prepared in customary dishes ranging from deep-fried tarantula in Cambodia to bowls of baby bees in China.”. This means eating insects has been a long-standing tradition in many countries.
  • Also: “A new American company, for example, is attempting to develop pressurisation machines that would de-shell insects and make them available in the form of cutlets.” This refers to technological inventions to help prepare insect dishes.

=>The answer is v Tradition meets technology

17. iv

  • It is stated in section D that: “According to research findings from Professor Arnold van Huis, a Dutch entomologist, breeding insects results in far fewer noxious by-products. Insects produce less ammonia than pig and poultry farming, ten times less methane than livestock, and 300 times less nitrous oxide.”.
  • The information given in section D suggests that cooking insect dishes would release considerably less harmful gas into the environment.

=> The answer is iv – Environmentally friendly production

18. x

  • It is stated in section E that: “Although insects are sometimes perceived by Westerners as unhygienic or disease-ridden, they are a reliable option in light of recent global epidemics […], species-hopping diseases such as swine flu or mad cow disease are much less likely to start or spread amongst grasshoppers or slugs than in poultry and cattle. …”
  • The information given suggests that insects are actually a good healthy choice for food as they are less likely to transfer species-hopping diseases (diseases that can spread from mammals) to humans (unlike poultry, pigs and cattle).

=> The answer is x – A healthy choice

19. ii

  • It is stated in section F that: “… in developing countries many rural people and traditional forest dwellers have remarkable knowledge about managing insect populations to produce food. Until now, they have only used this knowledge to meet their own subsistence needs, but Durst believes that, with the adoption of modern technology and improved promotional methods, opportunities to expand the market to new consumers will flourish. This could provide a crucial step into the global economic arena for those primarily rural, impoverished populations who have been excluded from the rise of manufacturing and large-scale agriculture.”
    • the poor = impoverished populations
  • The information given suggest that people in rural areas are the people who have more knowledge about how to manage insect population for food and hence, when the market for insect food increases, these people will have the chance to earn money.

=> The answer is ii – The poor may benefit

20. vii

  • It is stated in section G that: “… One problem is the damage that has been caused, and continues to be caused, by Western organisations prepared to kill off grasshoppers and locusts – complete food proteins – in favour of preserving the incomplete protein crops of millet, wheat, barley and maize […] While examining children’s diets as a part of her field work in Mali, Dunkel discovered that a protein deficiency syndrome called kwashiorkor was increasing in incidence. Children in the area were once protected against kwashiorkor by a diet high in grasshoppers, but these had become unsafe to eat after pesticide use in the area increased.”.
    • harm = damage
  • The information given suggests that insects (grasshopers) are actually good source of nutrients (protein) but have been eliminated for the cultivation of crops. The example about children in Mali suffering from a protein deficiency syndrome because of the lack of grasshopers in their diet due to the use of pesticide has demonstrated the harm that Western practices cause..

=>The answer is vii – Western practices harm locals

21. iii

  • It is stated in secion H that: “A further issue is the persistent fear many Westerners still have about eating insects. “The problem is the ick factor—the eyes, the wings, the legs,” Krisiloff has said. […] For Marcel Dicke, the key lies in camouflaging the fact that people are eating insects at all. […] For Krisiloff, Dicke and others, keeping quiet about the gritty reality of our food is often the best approach.”
  • The information given suggests that the main reason why people don’t eat insects is the because of the disgusting appearance. If we want more people to eat insects, we have to change how the dishes look or trick consumers into thinking they are not eating insects.
    • changing the presentation = camouflaging

=> The answer is iii – Presentation is key to changing attitudes

22. energy

  • Key words: Van Huis, insects, use food intake economically, production of protein, waste less
  • It is stated in paragraph D that: “Huis also notes that insects – being cold-blooded creatures – can convert food to protein at a rate far superior to that of cows, since the latter exhaust much of their energy just keeping themselves warm”.
    • waste = exhaust
  • This sentence suggests that compared to cows (warm-blooded) which use much of their enery to keep themselves warm, insects (cold-blooded) waste less energy, as they do not need to keep themselves warm and therefore, can change food into protein faster.

=>The answer is “energy

23. subsistence needs

  • Key words: traditional knowledge, combined with, modern methods, mass production, instead of, covering
  • It is stated in paragraph F that: “Until now, they have only used this knowledge to meet their own subsistence needs, but Durst believes that, with the adoption of modern technology and improved promotional methods,opportunities to expand the market to new consumers will flourish”.
  • This sentence means that people’s traditional knowledge can be combined with modern technology in order to increase their sales and not just to fulfill their own subsistence needs.
    • cover = meet

=> The answer is “subsistence needs

24. rural, impoverished /
rural/impoverished

  • Key words: help, people, gain access, world markets
  • It is stated in paragraph F that: “This could provide a crucial step into theglobal economic arena for those primarily rural, impoverished populations who have been excluded from the rise of manufacturing and large-scale agriculture.”
    • help gain access = provide a crucial step
    • people = populations
    • world markets = global economic arena
  • This sentence means that these changes will enable rural, impoverished people to sell their produce all over the world.

=> The answer is “rural / impoverished”

25. pesticide use

  • Key words: Dunkel, due to, increased, more children, Mali, suffering from
  • It is stated in paragraph G that: “While examining children’s diets as a part of her field work in Mali, Dunkel discovered that a protein deficiency syndrome called kwashiorkor was increasing in incidence. Children in the area were once protected against kwashiorkor by a diet high in grasshoppers, but these had become unsafe to eat after pesticide use in the area increased”.
  • These sentences mean that pesticide use killed grasshoppers, which were a source of protein for children in Mali; therefore, these children suffered from a protein deficiency syndrome (kwashiorkor).

=> The answer to 25 is “pesticide use

26. protein deficiency
(syndrome)/kwashiorkor

  • Key words: Dunkel, due to, increased, more children, Mali, suffering from
  • It is stated in paragraph G that: “While examining children’s diets as a part of her field work in Mali, Dunkel discovered that a protein deficiency syndrome called kwashiorkor was increasing in incidence. Children in the area were once protected against kwashiorkor by a diet high in grasshoppers, but these had become unsafe to eat after pesticide use in the area increased”.
  • These sentences mean that pesticide use killed grasshoppers, which were a source of protein for children in Mali; therefore, these children suffered from a protein deficiency syndrome (kwashiorkor).

=> The answer to 26 is “protein deficiency (syndrome) / kwashiorkor

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  1. Funmilayo Folusho Banjo 10/05/2020

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