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I’m not talking about weight-loss diets here; I’m talking about ‘the food we eat’ diets. I spent far too much of my life dieting, and wouldn’t inflict that on anyone. I won’t even inflict writing about it on anyone. I gave all that away several years ago and have no wish to revisit any part of it. The only diet I ever found that seemed intuitively to make sense was the one where you can eat anything you want, and as much as you want, so long as you eat it in the company of naked fat people. But enough of that; I said I wouldn’t talk about dieting, and I won’t.

I’ve just read, and watched, an interesting piece on eating insects. Wait! Don’t go running out to throw up. This is serious. Well, sort of serious. There’s an awful lot being written and talked about these days regarding sources of food: what to eat, where it comes from, who grows it, what’s in it, and so on.  And, of course, there is the looming issue of sustainability.  These are all important issues, and I don’t intend to make light of them, but merely to shed a wee flicker of light on some of them.  To whet your appetite for more information about it, you might say.  Today I’m going to bug you about insects.  Incidently, the (intentional) eating of bugs is called entomophagy, in case you’d like to drop the occasional reference into a conversation.

This is not a new concept, of course.  Many cultures have been enjoying the protein hit they get from munching bugs for millennia. I live in Australia,  and there the witchetty grub (also spelled witchety grub or witjuti grub) a large, white, wood-eating larvae of several moths, is the most important insect food of the desert and was a staple in the diets of Aboriginal women and children. They are sought out as a high- protein food by indigenous Australians. The different larvae are said to taste similar, probably because they feed on similar woods. The grubs are eaten either raw or lightly cooked in hot ashes. The raw witchetty grub (apparently) tastes like almonds, and when cooked the skin becomes crisp like roast chicken while the inside becomes light yellow, like a fried egg.

My personal experience with eating insects is not particularly helpful here, as it is on the negative side.  Years ago (none of your business how many years ago) I ate a fried grasshopper.  I was in high school (okay, so you know it was 50 year ago) and my Spanish teacher thought it would be a treat for the class to taste some Mexican delicacies.  Namely, fried grasshoppers. I can report that sprint records were broken in my dash to the water fountain.  I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth for days.  Well, it was probably only hours, but as I recall it, it was days.  It was vile. But in the interest of eco-friendly protein sources, I’m perfectly prepared to believe that I just happened to get a rotten one.

Some Entomophagy Factoids (source)
There are 1,462 recorded species of edible insects.  No doubt there are thousands more that have yet to be tasted. 100 grams of cricket contains: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, and 3.10 mg. of niacin.

And, in case you are persuaded to try some, here is some help in preparing them:

To prepare a batch of crickets or mealworms:
Take the desired quantity of live insects, rinse them off and then pat them dry. This procedure is easy to do with mealworms, but fairly hard to do with crickets. To do so with crickets, pour them all into a colander and cover it quickly with a piece of wire screening or cheesecloth. Rinse them, then dry them by shaking the colander until all the water drains. Then put the crickets or mealworms in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer until they are dead but not frozen. Fifteen minutes or so should be sufficient. Then take them out and rinse them again. You don’t really have to clean mealworms, though if you want, you can chop off their heads. Cricket’s heads, hind legs, and wing cases can be removed according to personal preference; I like doing so, since cricket legs tend to get stuck in your teeth. (my emphasis) You are now ready to use the insects in all kinds of culinary treats!    (source) 

Check out this blog article :
Grasshopper tacos with Fried Tarantula on the side

OCTOBER 22, 2010 BY 

Bug Eatin, courtesy of PBS

And that’s just for starters.  Here are a few more websites you might like to check out. There are dozens more. Probably hundreds.

How Can I Tell If A Bug Is Edible?

List of Edible Insects (Girl Meets BugEdible Insects: the Eco-Logical Alternative)

Eco-Friendly Protein  

My cat, Pigeon, loves to eat huntsmen spiders.  They’re huge, and I suspect a good meal for a moggie, but he always leaves the legs lying around.  Perhaps they get stuck in his teeth.      MM

The Huntsman