Eating Healthy: Try Bugs?
No wilderness survival story would be complete without the main character nearing starvation; having to make the decision to tear apart fallen logs to dine on a handful of wriggling grubs. You can turn to the National Geographic channel and see warriors throughout South America and Africa on the hunt, stopping for a necessary insect snack to provide them the protein and vitamins they need to continue stalking their prey. Most of us would probably choose to munch on an insect if we were starving, but what if it was served to us at the dinner table as the main course?
It’s called Entomophagy, and means consuming insects as food. Although not common in most developed nations, insects remain a popular food in areas such as Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
There are some surprising benefits to eating insects, beginning with the fact they can be an extremely healthy alternative to meats such as beef, chicken, and pork. They are very low in fat yet high in protein, and provide higher concentrations of iron, vitamins, and calcium then either beef or fish. They are also an excellent source of B1, B3, and the more healthy fats needed by the body for energy.
In Mexico grasshoppers are sold by the pound in the markets, and are fried before being eaten. Filipinos are very fond of locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets. Colombians enjoy grinding ants to eat on top of bread. Grasshoppers have 20 grams of protein and just 6 g of fat per 100g while fire ants have 13.9g of protein and 3.5g of fat.
An even more impressive benefit of eating insects can be found when you look into their economic value. Rearing and harvesting insects takes up much less water, food, and energy than any of the meats that we currently consider staples of our diet in the US. Insects are even cheaper and more efficient to produce than grains and vegetables. The amount of food that it takes to produce 1lb. of beef would easily produce 4 times that weight in crickets, and result in a healthier meal.
There are lists of edible insects and suppliers on the internet if you are interested in trying a new addition to your family’s dinner. Better yet, why not raise them yourself? Beginner cultures of most insects can be purchased very cheaply, and can often be maintained on scrap foods or grain. There is an advantage in this also because you never have to be concerned about pesticides or chemicals. So add some crickets and mealworms to your diet and you can save money, clean up the environment, and improve your health!