Insects are eaten in many parts of the world as a simple, everyday snack; sometimes as a delicacy. The practice of eating insects is referred to as entomophagy, and fair amounts of research has already been done to look at insects as a healthy alternative to the world’s heavy consumption of other protein sources such as beef.
By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog.com
Survivalists and food enthusiasts alike might be curious about trying their first bug – and be well aware of the fact that they might have to do so for necessity. Here’s more information about bug cuisine and why it matters…
The Nutritional Value of Insects
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a document entitled Eating Insects: Future prospects for food and feed security exploring the history and current facts behind insect-eating; it’s definitely worth a read, and even manages to tell us a little more about the nutritional value of insects. According to their guide, a large, adult mealworm has 206 kcal per 100g; a dried de-winged adult termite has 535 kcal per 100g and a whole raw red legged grasshopper has 160 per 100g.
Also Read: Survival Eating
It’s clear that insects aren’t lacking in nutritional value – and, prepared right, they could be delicious.
Insects to Avoid
Most insects are edible as a general rule of thumb, though you might want to avoid anything that’s brightly colored, spiky or hairy or emits a weird smell as they are likely to be outright poisonous or just not good to eat. For scorpions, you might want to remove the stinger first – and most guides to bug cooking recommend that you cook most bugs, though some – mealworms being one – can be eaten raw.
Ways to Eat Bugs
So, you want to eat bugs? Whether you’re camping, doing it for fun or being forced to seek out bugs for food in a survival situation, here’s our guide to how to find them and what to do with them then…
Step One: Harvesting
Many insects can be attracted with simple bait. A mixture of brown sugar and yeast will attract anything from ants to beetles; fermenting fruit, wine or beer is another option for attracting all sorts of critters. The Insect Sciences Museum of California notes that bugs like to seek shelter in or under fallen trees, plants, leaves, stones and near ponds and streams. Look for them there and take along a jar for collection – accessories like a knife (for separating bark from trees, for example), gloves (for spiky plants) and a net (for flying insects) might also come in handy.
Step Two: Cleaning
Not all insects need to be cleaned before preparing; again, it depends what kind of insect you ended up with. Termites, for example, might need to be ideally de-winged before frying; scorpions can be cooked with the stinger, though it’s generally recommended you remove it. Certain caterpillars and worms might have to be cleaned beforehand, too, by removing their internal digestive systems.
Step Three: Drying, or –
Some insect snacks are dried. A great example is mopane worms, the caterpillar of an Emperor moth found in Southern Africa and traditionally dried and eaten as-is or rehydrated and used in cooking. You can make your own dried insect snacks by cleaning them – in the case of mopane worms, they are squeezed to “pop out” their guts – and placing them on a drying rack, with salt.
Step Four: Frying
The majority of insects will be best fried – at its simplest, in butter or oil and with salt and any accompanying herbs and spices you have on hand. This will, of course, depend on your situation and what you are able to harvest around you. Our best recommendation is to experiment with this, as your taste in bugs could turn out to be as varied as many people’s tastes in vegetables or steak – would you like your caterpillars crispy?
Extra Resources: Articles and Books
Take a look at these links for some more information and great bug recipes. Know of any more great links, recipes or bug-eating stories? Send them our way in the comments below the article!
The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet on Amazon.com
Bugs for Lunch on Amazon.com
Eating Bugs: Bug Recipes and Insect Recipes from Chefs on Time.com, April 22, 2015
Awesome Insect Recipes on Bug Vivant
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