Photo: smcgee via Flickr Remember when food shows were about cooking stuff? Now we have shows featuring guys who travel the world stuffing food in their pie holes just so they can tell us how it tastes (usually while the food is still in their mouths). You just can’t get a fresher description than that. Because we can only eat so much, we can now entertain ourselves between meals by watching other people eat.

The latest incarnation is the Man V. Food show where Adam Richman runs around the country trying to eat the ubiquitous gargantuan promotional meals offered by so many restaurants, which include everything from a seven-pound monster breakfast burrito to an eleven-pound pizza (which was barfed back up).

One show I find particularly irritating is the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, who for some reason reminds me of a turtle. He eats a lot of wildlife, which can’t help but fan the flames of the growing wild food trade that’s consuming biodiversity. From a recent NYT opinion piece:

As global wealth rises, so does global consumption of meat, which includes wild meat. Turtle meat used to be a rare delicacy in the Asian diet, but no longer. China, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan, has vacuumed the wild turtles out of most of Southeast Asia. Now, according to a recent report in The Los Angeles Times, they are consuming common soft-shell turtles from the American Southeast, especially Florida, at an alarming rate.

Here he is eating a still beating frog heart:

According to this article in New Scientist, we humans are now eating frogs into oblivion as we have done to many fisheries and uncounted other species over the millennia:

Bickford and colleagues say European kitchens initially found their own supplies in the surrounding countryside, but the fact that they are now importing from Asia suggests local populations were over-harvested. This, they say, could be a sign that frog populations, like many fish populations, will be harvested to near extinction.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a species called the red-legged frog. I’ve seen a total of three. They were once so populous that logging camps supplemented their meals with them, as did many gold rush miners. They’re rare as hen’s teeth now and nobody knows what impact this has had on insect populations and the rest of the unraveling web of life in this neck of the woods.

I recall another episode where some locals on Somoa ostensibly took Zimmern out into the jungle one night to shoot fresh wildlife (with high-end modern pump action shot guns). They blasted bats out of the sky and nailed a feral rooster (the same kind seen running all over Hawaii) while they were at it. They then made a fire out of nearby coconut husks and sat around eating everything they had just killed, with Zimmern describing what was in his mouth while it was still in his mouth, as usual.

In addition to these new travel food-eating shows we have the shows that teach us as we sit on our couches how to “survive” should we find ourselves abandoned with nothing but a camera crew in some remote wilderness. In a nutshell, you slowly starve to death while biting the heads off every small creature unfortunate enough to cross your path, as you hike to the nearest town or highway.