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Insects for Lunch?

Updated on June 16, 2012

What’s for lunch? If the answer was, “a bowl of roasted caterpillars”, how would you react?

The prospect of eating food we‘re not accustomed to can make our stomach churn. A feast of roasted caterpillars or grasshoppers does not get the palate salivating for many of us in the West. But, for many in parts of Africa or Asia insects are a delicacy. In the Philippines eating termites is a way of life.

There is an interesting variety of insects to delight your palate. How would like a portion of crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, beetles or caterpillars for lunch?

Caterpillars contain an awesome amount of nourishment given their size. In a study of the general nutritional value of insects, published by Elsevier Science, the caterpillar was found to be a rich source of iron, copper, zinc, thiamine (vitamin BJ and riboflavin (B2). Dry caterpillars contain more than double the amino-acids of meat.

Depending on the types of caterpillar consumed, just 100grams can provide most of the everyday needs for important nutrients as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, as well as many natural vitamins.

Some food professionals are rediscovering bugs as a resource of nutrients in the parts of the developing world.

Not all insects are edible if they’re gathered from areas sprayed with insecticide or fertilisers. Of course, as a safety measure, they should be avoided by those hypersensitive to the insects' marine relations such as mussels, prawns, and other shell fish. These feed on rotting matter, however your average insect feasts on green leaves and plants.

There is even a name give to the practice of eating insects – Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are called insectivores.

One day, eating insects may become fashionable in the West. Just think, for those of us who eat ham, bacon, or pork joints, how much thought do we give to the hygienic conditions of the source of that meat?

If push comes to shove, and the economic decline results in scarcity or very costly food in our supermarkets, at least we can look to our gardens or the nearest woodland for insects to make a nutritious lunch.

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