Insects are enjoyed as a source of food in many different places around the world and it is actually more common than you might think. The process of eating bugs is called entomophagy, and it is something that is normal in lots of different places. Though this might not seem normal, it is something that isn’t given a second thought in many places.
Whether you are wondering about eating insects that are sold in certain establishments or if you could rely on them as a source of food in a survival situation, we have all of the answers for you in this article. Lots of people would never even consider the idea of eating an insect, but it is certainly a possibility.
More than two billion people eat insects as a part of their normal diet, and when you think of it like that, it doesn’t sound like such a big deal. They are a great source of protein and make the perfect last resort if you don’t have any food. Insects are even considered to be a delicacy in many places.
Are Insects Safe to Eat?
Most of the time, insects are completely safe to eat, and many of them are edible. It is reported that they even taste good and they are very high in nutritional value. You will be able to eat the majority of insects, and they are rich in things like protein, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fats. Some insects are often compared to beef and fish in terms of the number of nutrients that they contain.
However, it is worth noting that not every insect is going to be safe to eat. There will be some insects that are very dangerous if you were to eat them, but we will provide you with more information on which insects you should avoid eating further on. You will need to be cautious around certain insects to make sure that they are safe for consumption.
What Insects Should I Avoid Eating?
As with any other source of food, there are some insects that you should avoid. We will leave some things for you to keep in mind below so that you can avoid eating dangerous bugs that are going to make you ill or dangerously impact your health.
Avoid Bright Colours
One of the first things that you will need to avoid when it comes to eating insects is any that have bright colours. More often than not, brightly coloured insects are a big warning in nature and they should be avoided at all times. An insect that has bright colours is much more likely to be dangerous than one that does not, so you should never eat them. You should try to opt for insects that have natural earthy colours to them as these are a safer option.
Avoid Hairy Insects
Another thing that you should avoid eating is any insect that is hairy. This is due to the fact that the hairs of insects can irritate the mouth and throat, and hairs can even sometimes be disguised as stingers. So, if it is furry or hairy, then it is best to avoid eating it.
Avoid Smelly Insects
Just like colourful insects, those that smell bad are also ones to avoid. A bad smell is typically a warning sign that says ‘avoid at all costs’, and this is because the bad smell of an insect or a liquid that they might secrete can indicate that they are not safe to eat.
Avoid if You Are Unsure
If you are ever hesitant to eat an insect for whatever reason, then it is best to air on the side of caution, just to be safe. You should also always cook the insects that you are going to eat. Although there are some insects that can be eaten raw, some cannot. Lots of different insects will contain things like parasites, and cooking the insects can eliminate many issues. Another benefit of cooking the insects before you eat them is that it will help to soften hard shells or eliminate the gross squishiness of guts and other things.
Avoid Signs of Poison
You should always make an effort to avoid any insects that rely on poisonous plants as a food source, as these are not going to be good for you. Snails and slugs are two bugs that are known for eating poisonous mushrooms or fungi, and even though they might be edible themselves, it is not safe to eat these poisonous things that they have eaten. Therefore, you should avoid eating them altogether.
Are Insects Considered a Delicacy?
Insects are considered to be a delicacy in many different parts of the world, and around 80% of the population will eat insects. The most common places for eating insects as a normal part of the diet are Asia, Africa, and South and Central America. These are all places where eating bugs is totally normal.
There are even some insects that are thought to be much more of a delicacy than some others. Some of the popular choices for insects are beetles, caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, cicadas, grasshoppers, termites, locusts, crickets, larvae and grubs. Insects are rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fats, which means that they can actually be really good for you.
Something that you might not have already known is that humans have relied on insects as part of their diets for millennia, and they evolved as insect-eaters. Insects are a delicacy in many different food cultures across the world, and they can even become quite expensive, depending on what’s on the menu. They are often paired with a variety of different dishes.
The Benefits of Eating Insects
We have already mentioned a few of the reasons why people opt for eating insects, but we will go through two of the biggest benefits of eating insects below.
Full of Nutrients
The first and most important benefit of eating insects is that they are full of different nutrients, which makes them really good for you. Interestingly, an insect has a protein content of around 20 to 76% of dry matter, but this will depend on the specific developmental stage of the insect.
Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Another great benefit of eating insects is that it causes much less greenhouse gas emissions. The raising of livestock produces methane gas, which contributes to things like global warming and climate change. Raising insects would produce between 10 and 80 times less methane gas and 8-12 times less ammonia. This makes insects a better alternative.
The Disadvantages of Eating Insects
As well as all of the benefits that come along with eating insects, there are also a few disadvantages. The most prominent issues that come along with eating insects are allergies and bacteria.
Even though people have been eating insects for generations in lots of places around the world, there isn’t actually much that is known about how they affect the body. Food allergies are becoming a bigger problem as time goes on, and there are lots of different allergens to consider. There are studies taking place to find out if insects are able to trigger allergic reactions in the same way as other food sources do, and many experts report that they can.
Lots of insects will feed on things like rotting food, animal corpses, and human waste, and these are all things that are full of bacteria. This is a danger that is associated with eating insects from the wild. To be completely safe for consumption, insects need to be bred in a clean environment. Additionally, there are some insects that carry harmful or even deadly parasites.
Examples of Edible Insects
Some examples of edible insects are grasshoppers, termites, grubs, earthworms, and scorpions. These are all insects that can be eaten and they each have different benefits.
Grasshoppers – Grasshoppers and crickets are both rich in protein, and they can be found in lots of different places. Most of them are edible, but they will need to be cooked before you eat them.
Termites – Termites are another great source of protein, and due to the fact that they live mostly in wood, they are much less likely to carry parasites than some other insects. Younger termites are much easier to get your hands on as they are unable to fly. Interestingly, in some places, termite queens are thought to be a delicacy.
Grubs – There are more than 364 different species of grub that are eaten around the world, like the witchetty grub in Australia and the palm weevil grubs in Asia. In North America, a commonly consumed grub is the giant water bug. Some grubs are known to be small and crunchy, but others are fat and juicy.
Scorpions – A common street food in China is Scorpions, and they can also be found in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and other Southwestern states. They are thought to have a similar taste to crab, but the stinger will need to be removed before consumption. They also need to be cooked to get rid of the poisonous properties of the venom.