INSECTS, THE “ORIGINAL” MRE
In response to Ranger Man’s post “I can’t wait to eat bugs” (and email saying he “sensed” a guest post after my comment) I am submitting just that, a guest post on BUGS as a viable food source. This is also to follow up and “fortify” my comments on the post.
For centuries human beings have added insects as part of their regular diet. This is known as Entomophagy, which means the consumption of insects. As I understand it, there are biblical references to eating bugs. In modernized societies, such as here in the U.S. this dietary staple has fallen to the way side and is even frowned upon. Look at the average insect and it isn’t hard to figure out why. Let’s face it; most are pretty gnarly looking and the thought of putting one in your mouth and swallowing it is, well, gross!
Deep fried bugs for sale in Thailand
If you can get your mind away from what it is and instead look at insects as an easily gathered source of protein and nutrients you could be in for a very tasty and healthy treat. Before I go any further let me put my “money where my mouth is”. I have personally dined on the following: Scorpions, Ants, Termites, Grasshoppers, Beatles, Crickets and Caterpillars. Probably a few I didn’t know about as well. I do like Ants. They are very sweet and tasty but it is best to rip off their hind parts (the third and last bulb of the body) as it contains large amounts of Boric Acid. Recently I have seen Scorpion Lollipops in liquor stores. Why not have candy and protein all in one?
Most of you probably have eaten bugs or bug parts without knowing as well. As quoted from National Geographic:
“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.
I am guessing she is right. How many times have you seen a bug while having a barbecue outside and then not seen it? You might have eaten it with that delicious bite of your mustard slathered grilled hot dog.
The National Geographic website also states:
“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”. “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”.
Hmmm. You learn something new every day! I also learned Nat Geo writers don’t proof read their work…
In the research I have done there are approximately 1,500 species of insects that are part of human beings regular diets worldwide. I have found this information on numerous websites and in numerous books. In Asia, Africa and many third world and developing countries bugs are not only a food source, they are a delicacy and sold in markets for top dollar. Here in the U.S. there is a bug eating group called the Bay Area Bug Eating Society (B.A.B.E.S.). These folks might be on to something and living fat off the land when TSHTF. What are we missing out on? Millions of people can’t be wrong.
According to the B.A.B.E.S. grasshoppers have the following nutritional values:
It’s worth a look at the term micro farming. You can grow veggies and raise insects on a very small parcel of land. Livestock require space and lots of it as well as lots of water and food sources. How much would an insect farm require? Not much at all. Most insects require a very small amount of fresh water and food sources to happily sustain them. Environmental controls regarding temperature, pesticides, exhaust fumes, etc. are paramount in maintaining a healthy insect colony.
Reptile lovers may already be farming insects for their pets as a food source. I have seen insects, mostly crickets and grasshoppers, in pet shops being raised in fish tanks. Why not raise them as a food source for people? This seems fairly simple and inexpensive with very little maintenance required. It is certainly cheaper than raising livestock.
Earthworms can also be raised as a food source. In my opinion they are the least desirable, even if they are the “meatiest”, but can be raised right in your garden with your veggies. People already farm night crawlers for fish bait. There are tremendous references on the internet on how to clean and cook worms as well as recipes. Worms – not just for fishing anymore! I was not able to find much information on nutrition values of worms except for this: Crude Protein: 62.2%, Crude Fat: 17.7%, Calcium: 1.72%. I do not know if this is per worm, by weight, etc or even if it is accurate. I think it probably is relatively accurate. Looking at those numbers I’m thinking they make a great survival food if you can get them down your gullet and keep them there.
There are dangers associated with eating insects. Many insects carry parasites that can make humans very sick or even cause death if they are eaten raw. For this reason ALL insects should be cooked in some fashion. They can be boiled, roasted, deep fried or baked, it’s up to you.
In my opinion all venomous insects should be avoided. These are typically bee variations, spiders and centipedes. I did read that bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets make good table fare if they are boiled which is supposed to neutralize the stinger and venom. My question is: Who wants to go catch them? A general rule of thumb for selecting bugs to eat is to avoid brightly colored or smelly bugs as well as any with 8 or more legs. Any bug running around in the open without a care in the world probably has little or no predators and there IS a REASON for this. It’s either toxic or venomous or not digestible due to some prehistoric, thorny armor plating. Think before you eat.
I would also avoid slugs, snails and the like. They are usually packed with parasites and diseases that will kill you in a long, slow, painful way if not prepared properly. Like mushrooms there are variations that are not edible. If you don’t know, don’t eat them. Escargot is not my cup of meat anyway. Blood suckers like mosquito’s and leeches should also be avoided for obvious, blood borne pathogen reasons. As I understand it roaches can be eaten, again, cook these to kill diseases and parasites. Just think; if there is ever a nuclear winter, roaches will survive.