Eat Bugs - Ant Colony

I know. As you read the title you are saying, “Eeeewwww GROSS! There are zero reasons why I should eat bugs!” And you may be right, but I want to at least provide 3 reasons why you should eat bugs and maybe you’ll see things a little differently.

The first time I ate a bug was on a dare. Someone presented me with a grasshopper and said eat it. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I took it and popped it into my mouth and started chewing. The initial crunch was like a pretzel. However, the rest was not even close.

The texture for the rest of the dare was somewhat familiar in that it was like eating butter beans which I dislike immensely. A little firm but the taste was edible but not something I wanted to do again.

After the chewing was done, I did what all little boys do to gross people out, I opened my mouth with chewed food on my tongue. Even the person that dared me cringed. In one motion, I pulled my tongue back in and swallowed.

My face did not show it but it was a nasty and difficult task. But it was so worth the $1 and the name calling later. The look on their faces was all I thought about when I walked around the school with a grin on my face every time someone said, “there goes the bug eater”.

Introduction to Entomophagy

I think the definition explains it best, “eating insects, especially by people”. We know the circle of life includes animals, reptiles or amphibians that eat bugs. But maybe there is a reason that would make a person eat bugs.

Culturally Accepted

Americans, in general, seem to not fathom the thought of eating bugs simply for the abundance of other foods. Not to mention, if someone handed you a tortilla filled with cooked ants, the “plate fright*” alone would cause you to turn up your nose.

*Plate fright refers to the reaction of someone when they see something unappealing on their plate and refuse to eat it. We decide with our eyes, then our nose when deciding what to eat.

On trips to Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ghana, I was offered the “opportunity” to eat bugs. Some were ants. Others were grasshoppers skewered and cooked on a long stick much like a kabob.

Remembering my manners that mama taught me, I accepted. I remember being pleasantly surprised at the tastes. It was not like the schoolyard dare at all. Instead there was actual flavor!

As I researched other cultures, I realized that it was common practice to eat bugs. Grub worms, lemon ants, snails, scorpions, and tarantulas. On a tortilla, by themselves, in a stew or just raw.

(To this date I have not tried a tarantula and the only scorpion I had was in a lollipop so I’m not sure that counts.)

We as a whole are the main nation who do not eat bugs as a way of life or just another snack or meal. And because many of us were taught that bugs are just nasty, we refuse the thought of even trying to eat bugs.

But…

Reason #1 To Eat Bugs – Nutrition

The comparison of protein alone exceeds both beef and fish. For example, per 100 grams of the common house cricket, there is 21 grams of protein. Now it takes a lot of crickets to fill your belly in comparison to a nice, juicy ribeye, but you are not losing out on the nutrition factor when you eat bugs.

In fact, in the article “Edible Insect Nutrition Information” on the Edible Insects website, they actually give a comparative breakdown and not only encourage people to eat bugs but the site is an actual market for you to purchase them.

Reason #2 To Eat Bugs – Easy to access

I was unaware of the statistic until I looked it up but 80% of all animals are bugs. Which means, if you choose to eat bugs, they are in abundance.

With the exception of my winter time adventures, I cannot seem to look in any direction without seeing a bug of some sort. Sometimes they are spiders and I won’t eat those or mosquitos but there are still a lot of insects to be had.

Even in the winter, you will be able to find food if you peel off some layers of bark from a dead tree. They aren’t hard to find.

Reason #3 To Eat Bugs – SHTF

What if?

I know many people that say, “if it all goes to crap, then I’ll try to eat bugs”. But think of this.

It all does go to crap and you can’t get past the “plate fright” you could go hungry. We practice now in order to be prepared for what could happen all the time. Some train in the gym to get fit so we can help others or ourselves if SHTF.

You go to the range and add to our food storage in order to ensure our survival if everything goes south. And maybe you are depending on your food storage. But we should practice in ALL areas should the worst case scenario actually happen.

DOWNSIDE: DEATH

So now comes the “I told you so” section. As with plants or just about any other edible thing, there are chances of death. I say this not to scare you but to be forthcoming and make you aware.

When doing my research for this, I found a lot of it comes down to common sense. If you recall, I said I don’t eat spiders or mosquitoes. Mosquitos are listed for two of the deadliest diseases known to man. Both Malaria and Yellow Fever cause large numbers of people to die each year and that’s not because they eat them.

According to the World Malaria Report for 2019 the number of malaria cases have dropped from 231 million cases to 228 million cases and from 416,000 deaths to 405,000 deaths. Again, that’s just from malaria.

In fact, there is an entire organization devoted to wiping out malaria and have their sights set on Yellow and Dengue Fevers as a follow-up. And you wouldn’t eat ticks because of Lyme Disease. Again, neither of those are ingested.

My thought is if it eats blood or animal poop, I don’t want it. End of story.

But let me list out some of the other diseases

Diseases from bugs:

  • Malaria – mosquitos
  • Lyme Disease – ticks
  • Arbovirus – Dengue and Yellow Fever – mosquitos
  • Plague – fleas – that’s a big one
  • Enteric Diseases – Typhoid and Cholera – house flies
  • Sleeping Sickness – Tsetse flies
  • American Trypanosomiasis – Conenose bug aka “kissing bug” –
    • CAUTION when you look up this one

Conclusion – you decide

I am reminded of Tamon and Pumba from The Lion King. “Oh the little cream filled kind” as Pumba plops a nice wood grub into his mouth. Which is not as bad as you would think.

Or maybe you prefer Baloo and Mowgli’s discussion from The Jungle Book. “You eat ants?” to which Baloo replies, “You better believe it”. Tortillas filled with pan fried ants are rather tasty. Regardless, it is one of those things you have to decide for yourself.

Maybe Shakespeare actually said, “To eat bugs or to not eat bugs. That is the question”. If given the chance, I recommend at least trying to eat bugs.

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Bill Reese

Author Bill Reese

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