Entomophagy

Read all about entomophagy: insects as food

fired silk wormWhen it’s time to figure out what to have for breakfast, most people don’t consider anything with legs on it. But you may be missing out on some essential nutrients. Some bugs are a great source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. Although at first it may sound disgusting or even dangerous, the idea of eating bugs isn’t really all that crazy. People eat bugs on television for money, and none of them suffered any lasting ill effects.

But the practice of using insects as a source of food has been around a lot longer than that. The scientific term for using bugs and other insects as a source of food is entomophagy. Humans have been eating insects since the first people roamed the world and began to forage for themselves. When other types of food weren’t available, insects were easy enough to find, and nutritious enough to ensure the survival of most.

Entomophagy (from Greek ἔντομον éntomon, “insect”, and φᾰγεῖν phagein, “to eat”) is the consumption of insects as food. Insects are eaten by many animals, but the term is generally used to refer to human consumption of insects; animals that eat insects are known as insectivores. There are also some species of carnivorous plants that derive nutrients from insects. –Wikipedia

Insects are a source of food for other warm-blooded creatures as well. Bats, bears, moles, and the aardvark are all mammals that rely almost solely on insects for food. This fact just reinforces the fact that there is some nutritional value in some insects. On the other hand there are also a few you should stay away from.

Before you turn up your nose and say that you would never eat insects, consider this. What if you lived in a world where the traditional food sources you usually enjoy suddenly became unavailable? When most people plan a menu, they pick up things from the supermarket. But what if all the supermarkets were closed? Yes you could hunt, but even that source would dry up eventually.

Edible insects as a source of food is still a viable one in many countries. In the country of Japan, the larvae of the aquatic fly are sautéed with spices to make a delicious dinnertime dish. Another traditional Japanese delicacy involves candied grasshoppers. Chinese beekeepers are known for eating the bee larvae taken right from their own hives. The French are known for covering insects with chocolate for another tasty treat. And let’s not forget the country of Mexico, where the agave worm can be found. The agave worm is not only used in alcohol however. It can also be cooked and eaten in a variety of dishes or on tortillas. The list of countries that use insects to make delicious and nutritious food goes on, but I think the original point has been well made.

But just because you now know that insects are a good source of nutrients doesn’t mean you should just grab up a bug and pop it into your mouth. For one thing, it is probably better to make sure that your food isn’t alive and putting up an objection to being eaten. There are also some insects you should not try to eat, because they will make you sick. Some of them just taste bad, others may cause ill effects.

 

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