If we're lucky, summertime means picnics, sitting by water, perhaps hiking through the woods. And with all that time spent in nature comes, well, nature! That includes some up close and personal interaction with our insect friends -- the ones most of us prefer to ignore, swat away, and/or avoid as much as possible.
Occasionally, though, stuff happens. Like you might actually swallow an ant or a gnat or a pesky mosquito.
First of all, don't freak out. Aside from feeling kinda gross, swallowing a bug is generally not harmful. Here's why:
Said bug goes down your esophagus and into your stomach where it's mushed up and digested. Then it leaves your body via the opposite end. If you happen to inhale a bug instead -- this happens to runners, occasionally -- it will travel down your windpipe into your lungs where it will get trapped by your protective mucus membranes.
While bug eating is not all that popular in America (it is in other countries), the truth is, we do eat bugs -- or bug parts -- quite often without knowing it ... and we're ok. A recent post on ScientificAmerican.com highlighted the fact that the FDA allows for a certain amount of "insect fragments" in our food such as broccoli, canned tomatoes, and canned fruit juices.
In fact, a recent report from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN underscored the nutritional benefits of insects-as-dinner. Looking at bugs for the protein they pack may be the key to solving a global food crisis if we can only get past our squeamishness.
So the next time you accidentally consume a critter, wash it down with some water and think of it as a summertime appetizer.
Image via acidpix/Flickr