THE BLOG

826 Valencia's Student-Journalists on Eating Bugs and Natural Oddities

11/22/2013 12:37 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

The Valencia Bay-farer is 826 Valencia's only in-house newspaper written for students by students (ages 8 to 11). Our intrepid reporters learn lessons about the various aspects of journalism, from crafting ledes to interviewing to citing sources and at the end of each five-week workshop, we release a new issue full of articles about the kinds of things you'd love to read if you were a kid. We hope you enjoy these articles. To learn more about 826 Valencia, visit our website.

Bugs Are On The Menu
By Calista Nicholson, Age 10

People eat bugs all over the world, so why don't we?

The United Nations wants the people of the United States to eat more bugs. Technically, bugs are more nutritious than meat. An article called "Edible Insects" from the United Nations says that, "Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron, and zinc." Another reason the United Nations wants people to eat more bugs is because it is better for the environment. An article from the Huffington Post stated that "A pound of crickets requires nearly a thousand times less water to produce than a pound of beef." Isn't that surprising?! Even though there are so many benefits to eating bugs, why don't we?

Some people don't even get the chance to eat bugs because they can't find any stores where they sell bugs. Some people don't because they have never tasted them and they just look disgusting. They might think it's just weird eating food that has eyes, legs, and a brain, but did you know that some bugs taste like your everyday breakfast? An article from the Huffington Post called, "What Do Bugs Taste Like, Anyway?" says that sago grubs taste like bacon, and, "Sautéed wax- worms and oyster mushrooms," taste like macaroni and cheese!

Kathy Long is a Program Officer for the United Nations food and agriculture department. She supports the idea. "Personally, I think it's a good idea," she said. "With a growing population and increasing challenges to agriculture production (for example, climate change) we need to open our ears and mouths to different types of foods," she added. "The ancient romans ate honeyed locusts, and I imagine that since human beings have searched for food, insects have been part of their diet," Long said. That is when they think humans started eating bugs.

As the United Nations keeps pushing this idea it might become a reality. As the United States gets healthier this will be a bigger topic. Say goodbye to McDonald's and say hello to bugs.

Animals Frozen in Time and Other Oddities
By Julieta Roll, Age 12

Have you ever seen a unicorn? Well there's a place you can!

It's in the not-so-magical place called Paxton Gate, located at 824 Valencia Street, San Francisco. Here, lions are frozen in time and minerals shine and glimmer in glass containers. It's a taxidermy shop and a home and display for natural treasures and oddities. It's also a place where you can buy not-every-day houseplants.

Some people might ask where Paxton Gate gets these taxidermy animals. Well, Sean Santo, the Assistant Manager of Paxton Gate, says, "All our taxidermy comes from so many different places. Since taxidermy is such a dying art, some of it is donated, some people inherit it from their grandpa or grandma, or buy it at an estate sale and then put it in the store." So taxidermy is a dying art. Is that the reason many of the prices of taxidermy range in the hundreds or higher? When we asked Santo, his response was, "Because taxidermy is such a time consuming art, and the people have to actually gut the animal, taxidermy can take months. I think this is the reason why it's so expensive."

The taxidermy at Paxton Gate is expensive, but the bones they sell are generally a lower price. When I was talking to Santos, I learned a lot of the skulls and bones they sell are from dead animals that died because of population control. So when the government goes and kills some animals that are over-populating, instead of discarding the bones, they take them and put them on display for people to see, or for research.

Also at Paxton Gate, they have many affordable plants, and not your everyday plants. When I asked Santos what kind of plants do they sell, he said, "We sell plants that are special and exotic, like carnivorous plants." When I visited, I saw colorful, one- of-a-kind orchids and eye-catching plants.

Other things I saw were colorful insects pinned in glass frames. When talking with Santos, I learned that they dehydrate the insects and use pins in order to shape them. But where do they get their insects? When I asked Santos, I learned that one of their sources is a butterfly farm.

But you still might be wondering how Paxton Gate started. Paxton Gate began as a landscaping company. Slowly, taxidermy starting seeping into the store and then more and more natural oddities.

You might be interested in Paxton Gate's upcoming events. There is a kid's event every other Saturday. On Friday, Dec. 6, Paxton's Gate is having their twenty-first anniversary party, open to the public for all to enjoy.