First, let it be known I am NOT a bug fan! I tolerate them, but am not fascinated in any way, shape or form (with the exception of butterflies and dragonflies). And the thought of eating one makes me gag.
But one day recently I read this subject line in my inbox: Edible Bugs
My first thought, of course, was “Eeeeww!!” But I clicked because, much as I hate the thought, one never knows if one will actually need that information someday!! A little curiosity too, I admit.
The article was from Alderleaf Wilderness College, a nature education and wilderness survival school in the Seattle, Washington area. The author of the Edible Bugs article, Filip Tkaczyk, gives us several pointers…
Why in the world eat bugs?
As Tkaczyk points out, many of us already eat invertebrates (of which bugs are a part). Shrimp, anyone? And in many cultures in the world bugs are a normal part of the diet.
Two memories come to mind.
First, reading a missionary story to my kids a few years ago and hearing the author’s description of the first time he choked down fire-roasted grubs. Quite tasty actually, said he!
Second, watching an episode of Globe Trekker about Mexico. A street vendor had, among other things, a basket filled with little black (live) beetles. As the GT host was talking with her, she smilingly grabbed a handful of the squirming critters and popped them into her mouth!
(I had to turn away at that one!)
“Diverse and complex” flavor
Not only are all bugs high in protein, many are a good source of healthy fats. And their taste can, believe it or not, be appealing.
Tkaczyk says: “Every species has a different taste…Some species of termites taste like hazelnuts. Some ants have a rich, sour taste, including one species found in the Amazon rain forest which tastes just like lemon drop candies. Certain species of grasshoppers can taste like shrimp when cooked.”
I found this article on the blog Girl Meets Bug. It’s a list (complete with photos) of how various species of bugs are served in various parts of the world.
I’m not converted yet.
And this article from Budget Travel.
Still not converted. In fact, kind of getting grossed out.
But…if my survival depended on it?
If I was lost in the wilderness and my survival was in question, I’d probably be desperate enough. In that case, I’d want to know which ones are my best bet.
First of all, which ones to avoid:
- Bugs with bright colors, and especially high-contrasting colors. They’re likely toxic. The ladybug family is a good example.
- Bugs that defend themselves with a defensive oil. Like the bombardier beetle.
- Bugs that have a strong smell. Apparently millipedes fit into this category, although I’ve never wanted to get close enough to smell one.
(This also makes me laugh a bit because of the notion that anything organic is good for you. A millipede, organic or not, seems to be a good source of cyanide!)
OK, on to the Good Bug List:
- Grasshoppers and crickets
- Beetle larvae
- Ants, termites and wood lice
- Dragonflies (although we want them around to eat the mosquitoes, so only as a last resort)
- Large spiders, like tarantulas
- Bees and wasps
- And more (see above articles for specifics)
How to prepare them
Thankfully, most suggest cooking: roasting, deep frying, pan frying, boiling, something. Although if one were in a survival situation, that may not be possible. And one may not care at that point.
I’m hoping with everything in me to never be in a position to have to eat a bug.
But…I’m now educated on the hows and whys. And so are you.
So tell me…have you ever eaten bugs? When and why?
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.