Disturbing as it sounds, there are people who eat bugs. On purpose. In fact, 80 percent of the world's cultures eat bugs. Many of us have probably accidentally swallowed a gnat while biking through the park (what, just me?) or chewed up an ant leg in our peanut butter. I'm not talking about that -- I'm talking about sitting down to a meal of grubs. Or crickets. "People" say it's a trend and that it's the future of food. I think those "people" should go 'head and eat all the bugs they want, but this is one food trend I'm probably sitting out. Nevertheless, in the interest of science, I thought I'd look into the idea of eating bugs. What's out there, and why would you EVER?
Bugs are highly nutritious. Most insects are loaded with protein. Many are also high in iron, thiamine, and niacin. They're low in sugar and obviously have no artificial ingredients.
Bugs are eco-friendly and abundant. I mean, they're all over the place, for starters. They're free! And you don't have to use water or chemical fertilizers to grow them. Some even say eating bugs could solve world hunger -- except if that were really such a great solution, more people would be eating more bugs by now.
We have ways of making you eat bugs. A method of turning insects into flour is currently in the works. Would that make it better -- if the bugs you were eating were less, you know, bug-like?
Gee, that's ... neat! Okay, so of the people who are eating bugs on purpose, which bugs are they eating? And how?
Grubs. My anthropologist friends (and maybe their kids?) eat witchetty grubs whenever they travel to Australia for research with the indigenous people there. You can eat them raw, alive and wriggling. I hear they taste like bacon. I don't believe it.
Ants. Some say they taste sweet, some say they're sour because of the acid they secrete when threatened. I think we've all seen chocolate-covered ants in gift stores. In Colombia big queen ants are roasted with salt.
Grasshoppers and crickets. You have to cook grasshoppers before eating them to kill any possible pathogens. And then you'll probably want to remove the legs. In Latin America they're fried and roasted.
Aphids. I guess you can eat these, too. And you know what? When I think of the way aphids devour my beautiful nasturtium every summer, I'm thinking I may resort to licking them all off next time instead of that peppermint soap trick that never really works for me. I almost hate aphids enough to eat them out of spite.
What do you think -- have you heard enough to try eating bugs, or does it still sound too gross?
Image via Jay Cross/Flickr