Saturday, December 27, 2008

Let Them Eat Bugs & Reduce Use of Pesticides

As developing countries get richer meat’s ecological footprint is set to get even bigger. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at the United Nations considers livestock “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” It predicts that the world’s demand for meat will nearly double by 2050.

Eating insects does far less damage. For one thing, the habit could help to protect crops. Some 30 years ago the Thai government, struggling to contain a plague of locusts with pesticides, began encouraging its citizens to collect and eat the insects. Officials even distributed recipes for cooking them. Locusts were not commonly eaten at the time, but they have since become popular. Today some farmers plant corn just to attract them. Stir-frying other menaces could help reduce the use of pesticides.

Let them eat bugs
July 12, 2008


Here is an article where there could be an opportunity for humans to harvest insects as food rather than resorting to pesticides. The talks about how the rising atmospheric temperatures from C02 emissions has significantly increased the amount of damage caused by leaf-eating insects to food crops and plants in general.

"Our study shows [that] ... when temperature increases, the diversity of insect-feeding damage on plant species also increases."

In addition to migration from tropical regions, the scientists believe that insects had to eat more because the rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere made leaves less nutritious because they contained relatively smaller concentrations of nitrogen.

Insect explosion 'a threat to food crops'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mopane Worms in S. Africa by Andri

Photo courtesy of

"I was in Africa for about a month, on a trip to visit friends there with my Dad. We traveled through several countries in the sub-Saharan, and had a cool opportunity to try mopane worms one evening. The worms were toasted or dried like jerky...something to that effect...and they tasted fine – very similar to beef jerky. I was told that Bushmen travel(ed) with small sachels filled with mopane worms when crossing the Kalahari Dessert and voyaging far from home. It's said that the mopane worms are high in protein and other nutrients essential for health and survival, especially in the desserts where food sources are scarce. I'd eat the worms again if they were convenient to get."

Thanks to Andri from Coffee Cup Crusade for sharing her story about this S. African delicacy!

She also sent us a few links:

Stinkbugs and mopane worms for Aids patients

This nutritious source of food can be healthy and beneficial to people, "But the worm, which has a dry, gritty texture and slightly meaty taste, has fallen out of favour with blacks because they are ashamed of their traditional culture in the face of Western disapproval of eating insects..."

A London-based specialty food company who serve up snacks from all over the world. Some delicacies include: dried mopani worm, toffee scorpion candy, giant hornet's honey, scorpion vodka, and giant toasted leafcutter ants. These can all be found under their aptly named section Insectivore. They also carry insect products such as Scorpion Extract Wash.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mini-Stories by Mini-Readers

Got a story to tell? We would love to share your minilivestock eating experience(s) in our Mini-Stories by Mini-Readers section.

Send text, pictures, videos, drawings, or interpretive dancing to Looking forward to hear your stories!

Bug Girl’s Blog

Many thanks to Bug Girl! This doctor in Entomology (the scientific study of insects) was kind enough to write a post on us! Check out the Minilivestock post here.

Bug Girl's bug research involves using pheromones to try to control insect populations without pesticides. This is great to hear because humans have created synthetic insecticides for years to create an insect-free agriculture. A concern is that new strains of insects will have to evolve in order to become resilient to these pesticides. As we strive to create a stronger, more potent pesticide than the previous formula, we accelerate the danger to ourselves and the environment.

It is possible to find alternative options to using pesticides. Rather then trying to terminate the insects, people can take advantage of the situation and get by harvesting the crop AND the insects — a 2-for-1 deal. This idea and Bug Girl's research are both possible options to explore. These alternative options can protect agriculture, feed people, and benefit the earth, our health, and safety.

Also, don't forget to check out the rest of her blog to find out more about insects, food, science, rants, and tons of other fun topics. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Science Fair!

Come stop by our "science fair" outside Timkin Hall on the CCA SF campus tomorrow night between 4-7pm! There, you can learn more about the activism projects my classmates and I have participated in throughout the semester, including the Minilivestock project. There will also be snacks and refreshments. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fondu Party

Its pretty cool how the minilivestock that was prepared for the Minilivestock Potluck Feast traveled to multiple places later that night. My classmate Amy took some baked crickets and superworms to a fondu party, and my friend Eloise also brought some to a show at the Hemlock that she shared with curious friends and strangers. Some found it strange at first, but tried them and realized they were pretty good. I don't have any pictures from the show, but thanks to Amy for sharing some of her photos!

Stephen at the Minilivestock dinner, pre-fondu party
Fondu party!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Delicious Food of Japan

My friend Nori sent me this blog that has pictures of some Japanese insect cuisine. Check it out here: Delicious Food of Japan

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thank you from AFF

The Alternative Food Fair was a success! Thanks to all who stopped by last Monday to try some chocolate covered crickets, superworm chex mix, chocolate chirp cookie samples, and picking up a zine and button. It was my first time making a zine and putting it out into the public. It was fun tabling outside in front of CCA with Matthew, Rax, Ann, and Emily. The crowd was hungry and full of excitement and curiosity. I had fun talking to all of you. If you stopped by, I would appreciate it if you please leave a comment about your thoughts. Thanks!

Curious visitors picking up a zine and button
Superworm chex mix
The chocolate covered crickets tasted like malted milk balls, a crowd favorite
Niki stopped by to say hello and to chow down on some baked superworm chex mix.

*Thanks to Rax for the photos

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Starship Troopers - WAR

Thanks to Lawrence for sending this to me. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Minilivestock Potluck Feast

The dinner had a great turn out. Thanks to all who brought something tasty, helped cook, and showed up! I appreciate everyone's support, great conversation, and hungry stomachs. It was fun!

People made some tasty dishes...Matthew brought some ginger and garlic tofu and Ann brought in seaweed tapenade. My friends, Jeremy and Nori, surprised me with some live snails, which my roommate Cherilyn prepared with some garlic. My roomate Vy made spring rolls with tofu and shrimp (a relative to insects). Sister Emily and friend Kien made some mini "chocolate chirp cookies" (made with cricket flour), which was a hit. I had a lot of help from friends in prepping and making this happen, and it was fun cooking and spending time together. Hopefully, next time I'll have become a better chef by then!

I'll be posting more pictures as they come trickling in, but here is a little sneak preview for now. Also, if you have any stories you want to share about the dinner or eating insects in general, we would love to hear about it. Thanks to everyone for making this dinner memorable.

A portion of the food at the feast. In this picture you can see the cricket flour pesto pasta, the superworm chex mix, and some of the okonomiyaki with cricket flake garnish (close up pictures coming soon).Chocolate covered crickets prepared by Jenn and Law. A definite crowd pleaser.Escargot with garlic.Superworm tempura. Watch out for hot oil explosions.A few of the satisfied feasters.

Alternative Food Fair

Come say hello at the SF CCA campus tomorrow. See you there!
Poster created by Matthew.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Stuff Works Podcast

Give your ears a treat by listening to an entertaining and informative podcast about eating insects here or here!

The articles on the site are easy to follow because they break down the article into topic links. Here are a few interesting articles from

Article: How Entomophagy Works
Video: Moth Snacks In Sydney

Article: Are figs really full of baby wasps?
Video: Wasp Cookies in Japan
Video: Exotic Food Festival

I've heard about the wasps in figs before, but never knew how it worked or if it was true. It was also interesting to hear that some vegetarians and vegans don't eat figs because of the possibility of insect content. Great, helpful visuals. Thanks HowStuffWorks!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Big

Thanks to all who have filled out the survey! You guys are awesome! The amount of feedback was overwhelming, and I got to read a lot of interesting stories and insightful comments. Again, THANK YOU!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Minilivestock Survey

Hi all! Please help me out and answer this short survey the best way you can, and send your answers to: Your input is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your help!

  1. What is the most “exotic” food you have eaten? How did you feel before and after?

  2. What kinds of animal organs/body parts have you eaten?

  3. Would you eat an insect? Why or why not?

  4. What would make you feel comfortable/uncomfortable eating insects?

  5. Tell me a story or your relationship with insects.

  6. Was there a time in your life when you changed your diet and why?


*The following information is optional and will not be released to anyone. You may be contacted for further questions or clarification.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Insect Fine Dining

I found it interesting how most information I've researched on Entomophagy dining is somehow related to "upper-end dining."

These are questions for all my readers, chefs, culinary experts or eaters, etc. out there--have you encountered this upscale insect dining experience? Are there any restaurants (lower or upper) that is off my radar? If not restaurants, WHERE HAVE YOU EATEN INSECTS? How did you feel? Please share your experience(s). Thanks!

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VIDEO // Fly in Your Soup? Yes, Please!

The Gastronauts in New York is a group club of self-professed adventurous diners who occasionally meet to explore varieties of global cuisines. Sunrise Land Shrimp's David Gracer also makes an appearance as the head chef of the their dining exploration.

Eating insects in Western cultures is still very new. The video mirrors both the openness and reservations that most of us still have about Entomophagy. Keeping an open mind and attitude, like the Gastronauts, can be helpful when exposing yourself to global cuisines and cultures, as well as understanding different ideas and related issues.

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Super Bowl Party

The owners of The Spotted Pig "gastro-pub" (a British subgenre bar serving simple, straightforward food) threw their hardworking staff a Super Bowl Party at La Esquina Taqueria in NYC this year. The menu that night served everything from whole pig to crab tostadas to chipalines baby crickets. The chipalines were served along side other bar snacks such as chips, salsa, and guacamole. The chipalines may not have been the main dish of the night, but just including it on the menu with more popular dishes is a way to introduce Entomophagy as part of normal dining.

Check out the Spotted Pig Dinner Menu

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Entomophagy seems to have also caught the attention of a few upscale restaurants.

Typhoon in Santa Monica, CA is one of them. Their menu is categorized by meat, and one of those categories impressively includes insects, right below the crab cakes and tuna tartar.

RADIO // Hear more about Typhoon and Entomophagy on NPR's Insects Get a Tasty Makeover report by Ki Min Sung, February 29, 2008.

Vij's restaurant in Vancouver, BC, Canada is a restaurant known for not serving food that is typically expected from most Indian restaurants. They may not have as an extensive insect option as Typhoon, but their Spicy paranta made with roasted, ground cricket and chapati flour sure sounds good.

Check out the Eating bugs fine in many cultures article in the Calgary Herlad. The article notes that Vij's paratha is temporarily off the menu, awaiting approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency since there are currently no regulations on insects as food.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Farmers' Market Goodness

A group of us from class went to the Alemany Farmers' Market in the Bernal Heights neighborhood last weekend. I can't get enough of farmers' markets! It's fun and satisfying to browse for fresh, cheap produce sold directly from local farmers. It must be the hunter-gatherer in us, except way more convenient and modern.

It's especially great if you make it into a group excursion. I had no idea the people I was with was so passionate about food. The conversations surrounding food were great, everyone had their own special something to add, and I learned so much about food just from that trip alone. I also picked up a few new things. I bought produce that I haven't normally bought or incorporated into my food, such as pumpkin and okra.Here's Niki posing with a gargantuan bundle of lemongrass that she got only for $1! Below is a picture courtesy of the lemongrass queen. How It's Made: Below, is an example of my usual improv cooking, introducing the pumpkin. This time, I made a coconut rice with pumpkin dish. Most of the ingredients I already had in the house. I cooked the rice, coconut milk, onions, shallots, curry powder, cumin, parsley, salt, pepper, and water in a big pot. While that was going, I baked a bulb of garlic and the cubed pumpkin with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. After it was done baking, I added it to the pot with the rest of the ingredients. In addition to the rice dish, I also made some insect flour out of superworms with pepper flakes, salt, and pepper on the side as an added nutritional option.The Verdict: I've never made this dish before, nor really cooked rice in a pot, but I thought this came out pretty nicely (kind of risotto-y). The rice was nice and creamy, and the insect flour was spicy and full of roasted flavor and aroma. My roommate initially had some reservations about having insects in her food, but she was curious and would give it a try...and she loved it! She gives this dish her seal of approval.

The first and following pictures are courtesy of Caroline.
The atmosphere and treasures you may find at a farmers' markets can inspire you to be creative in your cooking. It has opened me to think of new possibilities in my cooking, and made me try things I wouldn't normally do.

The sense of community is alive at these farmers' markets, which you don't normally feel from a grocery store. They are there every week providing people local goods that is extremely affordable, fresh, and sustainable. The vendors and customers are also all very knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly.If you haven't gone to a farmers market, I suggest you go at least once and with some friends. Hop on a bike, bus, carpool, or what have you, and make a morning or afternoon of it. Food is connected to community and conversation, so I suggest you cook one up.Find a local farmers' market near you:

(N. California)
Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Larvae, and Pupae, and Beetles...Oh, My

Last week, I bought 2 more containers with dividers for the superworms, so hopefully the 3 total I have now will help get more superworms to pupate. To review, superworms need to be isolated from each other so they are not stressed about the possibility of being eaten by their siblings when they are in their vulnerable state.

Earlier this week, I was excited to see that 2 of the mealworm pupae were metamorphosing into the next stage of beetle adulthood. It's amazing how quickly these mealworms transform. It's the beginning of a new week and I now have 12 beetles and counting!

But the best news was that just as I thought my superworm rearing was at a loss, I discovered yesterday that 1 of the 12 superworms in the inital isolation box turned into a pupa! I did have to wait 20 days, but finally seeing one that has moved onto the next stage is extremely exciting.

I haven't tried using a heat lamp yet, but my guess is that the slightly warmer weather we've been having this past week probably helped a little? The ideal temperature to raise them is around 75F, but I think we've been averaging around 70F in our house.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This is The Colbert Report

Guest David Gracer, entomological gastronomist and founder of Sunrise Land Shrimp. David Gracer cooks up a delicious plate of insects and invites Stephen to join in the feast. Wednesday, February 13, 2008

David has been an active contributor, advocate, and public educator of Entomophagy. He attended the FAO conference “Forest Insects as Food: Humans Bite Back” in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he gave a paper this year. David is also an English teacher at the Community College of Rhode Island. Please check out his site for more information: and his blog:

Here are a few articles featuring David Gracer:
Man Bites Insect
By Sam Nejamed
The New York Times
Published: February 10, 2008

Want to Help the Environment? Eat Insects.
By Josie Glausiusz
Discover Magazine
Published online: May 7, 2008

“Insects can feed the world. Cows and pigs are the S.U.V.’s; bugs are the bicycles.”

“If you want to feed a lot of people, insects are the best choice in terms of getting the biggest bang for your buck.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You Eat Approx. 1 lb of Bugs a Year (Unintentionally)

Q: Knowing this, how do people out there feel? Would you rather not know?

"'It's estimated that the average human eats one pound (half a kilogram) of insects each year unintentionally,' says Lisa Monachelli, director of youth and family programs at New Canaan Nature Center in Connecticut.

Cochineal insects give a red or pink coloring to foods, lipsticks, and beverages. The small, scaled bugs are listed as cochineal extract on the ingredient list.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also allows certain levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods, as long as they doesn't pose a health risk.

For example, chocolate can have up to 60 insect fragments per 100 grams, tomato sauce can contain 30 fly eggs per 100 grams, and peanut butter can have 30 insect fragments per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), according to the FDA. "

This excerpt was taken from the Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back article.

You can check out the FDA's regulation here:
Food Defect Action Levels: Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans

Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back Article

Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back
By Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
April 16, 2004

Didn't mean to post another one from National Geographic, but I thought this one was pretty interesting. The article talks about how more people in America, including the young generation, are being educated and more open to trying insects. It also mentions the likeliness of humans adopting insects as a source of protein in the future.

"Today, U.S. children are not as squeamish about bugs as their parents, thanks to nature centers, museums, and zoos throughout the country that frequently teach school programs about insects as food sources.

Older students are learning about entomophagy too. About 12 insect festivals are held each year, like the Bug Bowl at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The popular festival started in 1990 and attracts more than 10,000 people. Besides munching on chocolate-covered crickets, visitors can go to an insect petting zoo, cockroach race, or cricket-spitting contest.

Most Americans don't intentionally make insects a part of their diet. But in the future they might. As more strain is put on natural resources, some experts say, insects will be raised as an alternative form of protein."

Insect Eating Promoted Video

Photo courtesy of

Defne is awesome and sent this me this video: Insect Eating Promoted

There was actually a 3 day workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand where international researchers and experts attended to discuss the use of insects in the human diet. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) experts say despite their appearance, they are highly nutritious and some may have the same amount of protein as meat and fish.

The video also touches on topics such as modernization and Western attitudes on eating insects.

The Chiang Mai french fries look good!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mac & Worms

Super tired after class, so I threw together a quick dinner. I wanted something a little more nutritious than just plain mac n cheese, so I threw in some protein. Almost no preparation was needed. I froze the worms while the mac was boiling, and by the time the mac was finished, the worms were ready to be taken out of the freezer and cooked. Instead of making worm flour this time, I decided to try dicing them instead.I used Trader Joe's Organic Shells and White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese and sauteed some garlic, onion, basil, parsley, pepper, and superworms.

The superworms didn't taste like much since the garlic was overpowering. The texture reminded me of the popped kernel skins (you know, the thin tan-colored parts that get stuck in your teeth) when you eat popcorn. That, or onion skin...sorry, those are the best ways I can describe it. You'll have to try them yourself! YUM!

Time Magazine Article

Photo courtesy of

"...entomophagy...could also be a far greener way to get protein than eating chicken, cows or pigs. With the global livestock sector responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions and grain prices reaching record highs, cheap, environmentally low-impact insects could be the food of the future--provided we can stomach them."

Eating Bugs Article
Thursday, May. 29, 2008
Health & Science / Going Green section

Don't miss the "How to Cook a Bug" video with David George Gordon at the end of the article!

Also, check out the Bug Cuisine photo essay.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Minilivestock Flickr

You can now follow Minilivestock on Flickr!
Feel free to add us & check out the extra photos. Thanks!

I Got Worms

I finally got mealworms! I got these from the Animal Connection in the Sunset. They were 100 for $3 and come in a container of bran, which I later dumped all 6 containers in a larger plastic container. They're smaller and softer than the superworms I have already. Mealworms aren't as high maintenance as the superworms when it comes to rearing cause they don't need to be separated to pupate (like the picture below).I upgraded from large random containers to a more compact superworm cubical, which makes it easier to handle.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So, rather than writing a note saying that the oatmeal bars contained superworms during class snack time, I verbally told people, which I don’t think traveled very well.

Lesson learned, so the next day I brought some more bars to our school studio and wrote a note on the container with a list containing all the ingredients used in the oatmeal breakfast bars.

I was surprised to learn that some people didn’t read the note, or read it and thought it was a joke and dug in anyways. Some vegetarians ate them without reading or taking the note seriously, which I kind of felt bad about.

Which brings me to a question I’ve been curious to ask for a while:
How do vegetarians or vegans feel about eating insects?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Snack Time!

*Note / “Mealworms” and “superworms” aren’t really worms, they’re beetles. They both are species of the “darkling beetle”. The “superworm” or “zophobas” are common names for the beetles when they are at their larval stage. Likewise, “mealworms” are the larval form of the “mealworm beetle”. They go through complete metamorphosis from egg > larva > pupa > adult beetle. Just wanted to clarify cause I wasn’t too sure myself!

So it was me and Kristin’s week for class snack time. I made a variation of this oatmeal breakfast bars recipe that I got from I made the exact same bars a couple weeks ago for my writing class, but this time I used cranberries instead of raisins and added superworm flour, which turned out pretty good.
Superworm or mealworm flour is basically baked crunchy worms that are then ground up into a fine protein rich powder, much like the consistency of flour or flax seed, depending on how fine you like it. They smell really good fresh out of the oven and have a nice nutty flavor. Scroll down to the end of this post to learn how to prepare worms for cooking and how to make mealworm flour!
Here are just a few of the happy eaters: Caroline and Gustavo. More than half the bars were gone by the end of class!
How to prepare worms for cooking:
1) Place live worms in strainer and wash in cold water
2) Pat them dry with a towel (or a hanky!) to get rid of any moisture
3) Place the worms into a plastic ziplock bag or container
4) Put the bag or container in the freezer for 15 minutes
5) Take out of the freezer and they’re ready to cook

How to make protein rich mealworm flour:
1) Preheat the oven to 200ยบ F
2) Lightly spray a baking pan with oil or butter
3) Take the frozen worms and sprinkle them onto the pan
4) Bake in oven for approximately 1-3 hours (This depends on how many you are baking. You may want to consistently check. The insects should be fairly brittle and crush easily when they are done.)
5) Remove from oven
6) Crush worms to consistency of flax seed or as fine as you like using a mortar and pestle, food processor, a fork, etc.
7) Now you are ready to use them in your cooking!

How’s it Growing?

So far, the raising process has been slow. I’ve been switching out the vegetables about every 2 days, and recently added apples to see if they would enjoy that more. I decided to take out the egg cartons so that they won’t chew on them, and just added more oats so they can burrow and hide underneath that instead. They say you should have at least 1” thickness of substrate for their habitat.I also separated 3 worms into their own separate containers to encourage their pupating process (which should take about 2 weeks). I noticed that these quarantined worms seem to be a little slow and sluggish. Does that mean that they’re starting their pupating process?

Overall, all the worms have been growing larger and look healthier than when I got them at the pet store. Their transforming and reproducing may take some time, so in the mean time and for the sake of my budget, I need to ration what I have for now (I only used 24 meal worms in the oatmeal breakfast bars). Hopefully, I will have a good supply of mealworms soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Home Sweet Home

After doing some extensive research and calling a ridiculous amount of pet shops in SF (btw there is an excessive amount of dog boutique and grooming services in the city), I finally decided to purchase my superworms (refer to previous "Mealworm CRISIS" entry). I read it's recommended that beginners should start with raising mealworms before taking on the escape artist cricket.

I decided to try 6th Avenue Aquarium first. I first bought 100 superworms for $5, but didn't realize how little 100 worms would look like, so I bought another 100. The cashier figured I was probably the crazy person who kept calling the store about mealworms, and he asked what they were for. At first I said it was for class, but then when I said it was for cooking, his eyes got all buggy (pun unintended). "Are you going to make them Thai-style?" he asked. I also picked up a few plastic storage bins, a strainer complete with lid, an apple, and a potato.I took the bus back home and got a few stares (not because of the worms, but by my huge plastic bag loot of tupperware). I awkwardly carried it on one arm, while carefully trying not to squash my secret tote bag of worms in the other.

I finally got home safely and started setting up my new mini-farm right away. First, I washed and dried the bin. Then I filled it with oatmeal I had in the kitchen, and slices of potato and carrots for their water source (you can use apples too, I just ended up saving the apple for later). I also added an egg carton for additional shelter from the sunlight. Tada! Home sweet home.

I later found that I accidentally threw out an adult mealworm beetle. I had mistaken it for an intruder and tossed it. It did cross my mind that it could of been a mealworm beetle, but I think I was expecting it to be larger than it actually was. Note: don't throw away the baby-makers!
It's interesting how some people who are squirmish when it comes to bugs, or eating bugs, still express a level of interest and curiosity.