Eating Insects For Survival Or Pleasure

By Owen Jones

In the West, not many individuals consume insects for pleasure, but that is fairly unusual if you consider the number of people and the number of nations in the world that do. In Asia, numerous people consume insects on a weekly or even daily basis. However, you may one day be happy that you read about eating insects, if you are stranded somewhere a long way from any other supply of food.

For instance, lots of army personnel are taught how to eat worms and insects as part of their routine training course as part of their survival training. Insects are abundant and are simple to catch or trap, they are also a richer source of protein than steak and easier to cook and far less risky to eat raw than meat from mammals, fish or birds.

Insects can provide over three times the quantity of protein weight for weight than any meat or fish. They are also free, you just have to know where to look or how to bait them. However, you ought to not consume just any insect that you can get your hands on. There a few simple fundamental guidelines.

Do not consume anything that can bite or sting you back. Not because this is perilous to you, but because creatures like bees, wasps and some ants only do not taste pleasant because of the poisons they make for their stings. A distinguished exception to this rule is the scorpion. Many individuals find roast scorpion a delicacy.

You could improve this rule to only include brightly coloured, stinging insects - especially ones with yellow colouring. Furry insects are not nice either, particularly caterpillars. Flying insects in general, like flies, mosquitoes, blue bottles, horse flies and the like, should be avoided too.

Big beetles (with the exception of cockroaches), grass hoppers, locusts, crickets and scorpions are the best. So are worms, maggots and most other larvae of that type like bee, wasp and hornet larvae. Termites and non-stinging ants are also suitable for eating.

Most people fry the insects in oil after taking off the wings (like with flying termites or ants). However, if you are stuck in the wild, you may not have any oil with you. Luckily, that is not too much of a difficulty if you cook the insects quite slowly, because most of them have enough of their own body fat to be fried in.

If you find that eating your first meal of insects is just too much to bear, have a go at mashing them in with some boiled root vegetables or wrap them in leaves. Boiled nettle leaves are very good for you and young dandelion leaves can be consumed raw.

If you are not certain how far to cook your insects, worms and larvae, here are a couple of pointers from Asia. Fry big beetles, termites and scorpions until they are crunchy on the outside but with a small, slightly soft centre. Fry worms, crickets, grass hoppers and the like until they are crunchy and crisp and boil grubs and bee, wasp and hornet larvae for only a couple of seconds.

The majority of Westerners that visit Thailand turn their noses up at eating insects, but after six years of staying here, I have never heard any of those who tasted them say that they were unpleasant. In fact, most said that they were surprisingly tasty, but then why else would so many individuals be fond of them?

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