Alternative eating: which bugs are edible

The eating of bugs and insects is a highly emotional topic and raises the issue of what you can eat to survive.  Some edible bugs are tasty, whereas some edible bugs taste foul but will provide you with suitable nutrition. A large proportion of the world’s rural population consumes insects as they are an inexpensive and nutritious food source.

Some futurologists have even predicted that before the Earth’s population of seven billion and growing reaches critical mass, humans will be faced with a hungry and thirsty world.  Is the solution simply that we need to prepare ourselves to eat bugs and drink urine?

In 2010, United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) proposed that insects should be farmed on a commercial scale. This insect could stave off hunger but also minimise the impact on the environment, caused by meat production.  According to the FAO report, insects produce one-tenth the methane that livestock produces, for the equivalent amount of food stuffs.  Another United Nations report established that the livestock industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions than transport.  If cows, pigs and chickens are the SUVs of the food world, bugs are the bicycles.

Before providing the benefits of consuming an insect-based diet, one needs to know what bugs are edible and what you can eat to survive in a Hostile Environment.  In many countries, insects are already included as part of a meal or as a light tapas to accompany drinking.

In Mexico, the Agave worm is a larvae of the Hypopta Agavis or Aegiale Hesperiaris moth and are proof that the alcoholic content of the bottled tequila is enough to preserve the worm.

Other insects that form part of the world’s living larvae are honeypot ants, whose swollen stomachs contain a nectar-like substance, and leaf-cutter ants, that are roasted and sold like popcorn at cinemas in Columbia.

In Northern Thailand, the bamboo worm is a larvae of the grass moth and, when eaten raw, tastes like bamboo.  Bee larvae are often sautéed in butter and tastes like bacon and in China adult bees are ground into a nutritious flour which is used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a remedy for a sore throat.  Crickets are very high in calcium and caterpillars are a nutritious source of iron and riboflavin.

In Africa, many people living in rural communities have eaten insects to supplement their largely carbohydrate diet.  Mopane worms when dried taste like wood but the midge fly of East Africa are often captured, pressed into solid blocks and cooked in oil before being sold as Kunga Cake.

In Nigeria, rhino beetle and grubs can lift more than 850 times their own weight and have high concentrations of protein, calcium and phosphorous.  The clarified fat of the larvae can be used as butter on roasted cassava or boiled yams.

A Ugandan delicacy is nsenene, a fried grasshopper that tastes like chicken or shrimp, depending on how it has been fried.  Thermites can be eaten raw out of the thermite hill, but few insect dishes are as exotic as the larvae of aquatic caddis flies.  These insects are boiled and then sautéed in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar in Japan, where the dish is known as Zaza-mushi – zaza is the sound of rushing river water and mushi is an insect.

During our H.E.A.T. courses, we teach what bugs are edible and demonstrate how edible insects have provided sustenance for many survivors in hostile environments.  If you realise that you need to eat to survive, and that eating bugs and insects will give you the nutrition and energy you need, it is vital that you educate yourself before finding yourself in a Hostile Environment.