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Bugs.. The other white meat

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posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 06:55 PM
This post is in response to another forum member asking which insects were edible, and which ones were not. First of all, I'm not an expert on the subject, so please do a little researching on your own, then draw your own conclusions as to the viability of insects as survival chow.

Eating Bugs

The eating of insects or entomophagy, has been practiced for thousands of years all over the World. In today's World however, the use of insects as a food source is rare in developed countries like the United States, but still fairly common in developing countries like Central and South America, Africa, and Asia where foodstuffs such as beef, pork, vegetables, and grains are in short supply and money is scarce.

I know what you're going to say.. eating insects is gross! That a cultural bias, not a statement of facts. Have you ever ate a bug? Sure you have! You've probably consumed over a pound of insects during your lifetime without even knowing it. The FDA even has guidelines as to the acceptable number of insect parts allowed in your processed foods. You didn't know that, huh? Well, here's another interesting factoid: the average person 'eats' upto 4 spiders in their sleep during their lifetime. Yum, yum! you great big entomophagous you! Don't get all in a panic about it though. The experience obviously didn't hurt you, and probably gave you a much need protein boost to your otherwise boring meal.

Here's something to think about when you blanch at the thought of eating insects: These are some of the permissible levels in your food:

Apple butter 5 insects per 100g
Berries 4 larvae per 500g OR 10 whole insects per 500g
Ground paprika 75 insect fragments per 25g
Chocolate 80 microscopic insect fragments per 100g
Canned sweet corn 2 3mm-length larvae, cast skins or fragments
Cornmeal 1 insect per 50g
Canned mushrooms 20 maggots per 100g
Peanut butter 60 fragments per 100g (136 per lb)
Tomato paste, pizza, and other sauces 30 eggs per 100g OR 2 maggots per 100g
Wheat flour 75 insect fragmnets per 50g

Source: The Food Defect Action Levels: Current Levels for Natural or Unavoidable Defects for Human Use that Present No Health Hazard. Department of Health & Human Services 1989.

So what exactly is an insect?

Insects, are Arthropods and have three pairs of legs, a segmented body divided into three regions (head, thorax, and abdomen), one pair of antennae and, usually, wings. Typical examples are beetles, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, moths, flies, mayflies, dragonflies, etc. You get the idea. Not all insects should be eaten though, and I'll give you a rough idea of which ones to avoid in the following paragraphs.

So Which insects are edible?

There are over a thousand species of edible insects in the World, so your choices are only limited by your imagination and level of squeamishness. Most ants, crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers are safe to eat including insect larvae, like those from moths and yellowjackets. In africa termites are a local favorite, and are eaten either raw or fried. Grasshoppers, caterpillars, and beetles are usually fired, while ants are ate raw or ground up into a mouth-watering paste. In Mexico and South America grasshoppers are the insect of choice along with the agave worm which is either swallowed whole or preserved in tequila..yeah, that's right, the little worm that comes in the bottle of the good stuff. In Asia giant waterbugs are much sought after and roasted whole for a gastronomical delight.

Which insects should I avoid?

Have you ever heard the saying "What looks good, isn't always good for you"? Well, that little sage bit of advise applies to some insects as well. Avoid insects that feed off of dung (crap) or carrion (dead flesh). They may be host to toxins or other parasites consumed during their feasting. Avoid brightly colored insects. Their coloring is an adaption to predators, and typical signifies that they are rather bad-tasting or toxic by nature. Don't eat insects that frequent places where pesticides are in use. Most insects eat fresh green plants, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Don't eat dead insects. You have no idea what killed them. Lastly avoid those insects that may inflict painful stings unless you're really feeling adventurous and know for a certainty that you have no allergy issues to stinging insect.

How Do I prepare them?

You can prepare your insect however you like, but typically frying, roasting, and boiling are the norm. You may also ground them up into paste or powders to add to soups, stews, broths, and bread items for an added protein punch. Grasshoppers should not be eaten raw, and you should remove the wings, legs, and ovipositors before consuming them. This would also apply to any insect with wings or legs that are hard and chitinous (Think beetle wings).

Why Eat Insects

Insects are high in protein and relatively low in fat
They're abundant and easily captured
They're free
They can be raised and harvested in very little space
Think of the money you can save on your grocery bill!
Last, but not least, You're hungry and have no other food to eat

Bon Apetit!

posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 09:14 PM
I heard earthworms are good, can eat raw, but you have to put them in a cup of water first, and they poop out all the dirt. Then you can eat them.

What's wrong with eating the wings and legs of the grasshoppers? I would think their guts would be the problem. How do you gut the insects? You eat their poop too?

posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 02:59 PM
reply to post by Salt of the Earth

Soaking them in water is the best method of purging their digestive systems of the soil they consume. The main reason for doing this is to prevent possible infection with parasites that the earthworm may have inadvertently ate. You may eat them raw, but most people prefer to fry or boil them. They may also be dried out and made into a powder to be added to foods.

Most people remove the wings because they're leathery and hard to chew, and the legs tend to have alot of bristles which are easily easily caught between the teeth like popcorn shells.

Something I failed to mention in the above post, but very important, If you are allergic to shrimp, shellfish, dust, or chocolate, experts advise you to never eat an insect except in a true survival situation, and then and only then after they have been cooked by roasting, frying, etc.

*Entomophagy is a fascinating subject, but I don't suggest you run out and start gobbling up every creepy, crawly bug you can find. In my opinion, It's only an option in a life or death survival situation. Do some research on the topic, learn about the various insects that are consumable, then decide for yourself if it is a real option. Eat at your own risk.

posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 03:25 PM
pill bugs can be ground up and eaten, the are called pill bugs (woodlice and pill bugs) because people did eat them for bone problems...they are a good sorce of calcium.

wood ant eggs are protien rich

lovelly yumm yumm
m x

posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 03:46 PM
I haven't personally verified this, but Survivorman says that all Scorpions are edible if you cut off those tails (careful, some can kill you), and he also seems to cut off the heads as well.

He also says that all grubs are edible if you cut off the heads. Probably safer cooked, but he did pull a couple out of a decaying deer, wipe them off andeat them raw on a show (no video cuts) yuck!!!

posted on Jan, 24 2008 @ 09:35 PM
Hot sauce makes everything taste better. mmmmm

posted on Jan, 30 2008 @ 07:59 PM
Bugs are good food! I've eaten ants, ant larvae, grasshoppers, and garden slugs. Plus a whole lot more I didn't know I was eating :-)

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