ABOUT

WHY IM EATING BUGS

Part 1: Why Bugs are Superfoods


The first thing you should know is that bugs are healthy.
In fact, insects are so nutritious that the United Nations is encouraging people around the world to eat more of them. Yes, I said more of them. Approximately 2 billion people are already eating insects. It’s called entomophagy and it is a fancy word for bug consumption. Surprisingly, insects are one the healthiest foods you can eat. Critters like crickets, mealworms and waxworms are jam-packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats. They are creepy- crawly superfoods.
I’ll admit I’m not the kind of guy who reads every nutritional label, but I am the kind of guy who pays attention to protein and insects just so happen to be protein goldmines. Many of them even have protein contents comparable to meats we already eat and usually with less fat and cholesterol.

PROTEIN CONTENT

(PER 100 GRAMS)


20.5 g

Cricket

23.7 g

Mealworm

14.1 g

Waxworm

21 g

Skinless Chicken

26.1 g

Lean Ground Beef

19.8 g

Wild Atlantic Salmon

(Taken from Edible by Daniella Martin This compares just a few of many protein sources. For a comprehensive list, check out the UN’s report on entomophagy)

 I should also mention the vitamins and minerals. Bugs are chock-full of them. Insects are known to have high contents of calcium, zinc, iron and vitamin A. They are also rich in essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fats that work against diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and…you get the point.
You might be thinking about the risk of diseases. Bugs are found in dirt so there’s gotta be a health risk, right?
Fortunately, edible insects don’t carry diseases like salmonella and mad cow disease. However, people allergic to shellfish should beware that they may have a low tolerance for certain insects. Other than that, just like any meat, you cook them until they’re ready and throw them away if they’ve gone bad. Simple as that.

BUT WHY THE HECK WOULD ANYONE EAT BUGS WHEN THEY CAN JUST EAT HEALTHY?

Part 2: Why Entomophagists Can Save the World


This question can be answered in one sentence: Insects are the most efficient form of protein on this planet. They require very few resources for just as much (and sometimes more) protein than meats.
Consider that the number one natural resource drained by our population is water. The UN predicts that in ten years, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed conditions.  In 2014, California experienced its worst drought in over 1,000 years. It’s hard to imagine a similar crisis on a global scale.
While the problem may be hard for me and many others to understand, the problem remains very real.

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DOMESTIC

%

INDUSTRIAL

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AGRICULTURE

According to the FAO, agriculture claims 70% of  water across the globe. In the United States, that figure is much higher at 80%. Our water conservation efforts only go so far when we’re only 10% of the pie. The real change needs to happen within the agricultural industry.
A major reason that 70% of water goes to agriculture is because animals like cows require extraordinary amounts of water for feed and hydration.
The USGS estimates that it takes at least 4,000 gallons of water to make one hamburger.
California alone exports 100 billion gallons of water per year to Asia in the form of alfalfa solely for cow feed.
In contrast, insects require extremely low amounts of water. You can raise the same amount of insects for 1,000 times less water.
How incredible is that?

Feed required for 1 lb of meat


Beef
10 lbs
Pork
5 lbs
Chicken
2.5 lbs
Insects
2 lbs

 

 

(Values taken from Edible by Daniella Martin)

EFFICIENCY OF PRODUCTION

 

 

Not only are fewer resources used, but you can actually eat the whole final product. Even if you decided to raise a cow, you end up wasting most of it. Animals use food energy to build things we can’t even eat. Bones and hooves are just a few on that list. You can imagine that the list goes on. Economically, it makes a lot of sense to raise insects because of their high efficiency of production.

CONSERVING LAND

There is a lot of pressure on the farming industry to find ways to sustain the rapidly growing population. The problem is finding a way to do this without depleting the Earth of the resources she needs to simply survive.
Unlike animals, insects don’t really need space. They prefer to live in close quarters, which is great news for all you animal rights activists out there. Insects can also be farmed vertically and pretty much anywhere. This is great news for all you conservationists out there, considering that half of our planet is claimed by agriculture.
Insects don’t really eat much either. They are incredibly efficient at converting food into mass. This is because they are cold-blooded. They don’t have to spend energy raising their body temperature like we do, giving farmers significant returns on their investment.

PERCENT OF ANIMAL EDIBLE

  • Beef 40%
  • Pork 55%
  • Poultry 55%
  • Cricket 80%

STILL CAN’T GET OVER THE ICK FACTOR?

Part 3: Why You can Eat Bugs if You Eat Sushi


Not so long ago, Westerners felt the same way about sushi. In the 70s, Americans couldn’t fathom the idea of eating raw fish and seaweed. Chef Hidekazu Tojo helped Westerners overcome this cultural barrier when he invented the California roll. In 1981, the New York Times even published an article about our rising acceptance of sushi. Back then, that was news.
Trends don’t just happen in fashion. They happen in food too. Heck, lobster used to be eaten only by prisoners and poor people. Now, there are restaurants that charge hundreds of dollars for lobster dishes.
As Marcel Dicke said, all we have to do is look at insects as “shrimp of the land.”

SO WHY AREN’T WE EATING BUGS?

Part 4: Why We Aren’t Eating Bugs

You tell me.
Entomophagy isn’t something new. People have been snacking on bugs for centuries. Insects were very popular among aristocrats of Roman and Greek societies. Pliny, a Roman scholar, wrote that his people adored beetle larvae. Greek philosopher Aristotle was a big fan of cicadas. Even St. John the Baptist was known for surviving on locusts and wild honey.
Like I said earlier, billions of people are already doing it. At some point, Westerners simply decided to move on to “bigger and better” things. We’ve successfully placed cows on higher pedestals than insects.
To be clear, I’m not declaring war on the meat industry. My favorite meal is actually a bistec (steak) sandwich from Sol Food, a Puerto Rican restaurant back home. I also love eating chicken katsu and I devour my dad’s lamb chops every time he cooks them. These are all very tasty meats to me and I’d be lying if I said otherwise. As far as I know, I’m never going to stop eating meat.
However, there are also over a thousand edible insects with unique flavors and an infinite number of ways to prepare them. Why not try something new? I’m going to kick myself if I end up having lived my life without trying new things, including foods.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly convinced.

FOR ALL THE REASONS ABOVE, I CHALLENGE MYSELF TO EAT BUGS FOR 30 CONSECUTIVE DAYS.


BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER?

Yes, I will find some way to incorporate insects into my diet at least three times a day.

WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THE BUGS FROM?

There are many different places to order edible insects online. Daniella Martin, author of Edible, has provided a list of edible insect stores on her website.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, CAM?

Well for one, many entomophagists claim that bugs taste really good and I’m all about some good grub.
But I also like to challenge myself. This is a challenge unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve been telling my friends and family about eating bugs since last summer. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is. I don’t necessarily have to make a blog to eat bugs nor do I have to eat them for 30 days, but this challenge isn’t just for me. This is an experiment. I want to see how feasible it is for anyone to include insects in a normal diet.
Can they really be used on a daily basis? Do they actually taste good? What’s the best way to cook them? Is the cultural barrier even easy to overcome? I’m going to find out and I want to share my experience with you.
If insects are really as deliciously nutritious as entomophagists claim they are, this should be no problem. In theory.