Gray Matter


Insects as Food - Entomophagy Is Common in the Far East

insects as foodMost westerners (like Americans) won’t eat insects unless they don’t know they’re eating insects. In far eastern societies, however, entomophagy is common. I’ve watched enough videos on various platforms to know this is true beyond a reasonable doubt.

United States Marines, when undergoing jungle environment survival training, have to learn to eat many of the insects they come across while training. These insects include cockroaches. I’m glad I didn’t have to undergo that training while I was in the Marine Corps.

Now, just because they eat insects as food in a lot of places, it doesn’t mean westerners should start doing it without some forethought. It can be hazardous to your heath. This Wikipedia page describes insects used as food and the potential dangers.

Insects as Novelty Food

Way back in the 1970s, when I was in one elementary school grade or another, various insect food products were part of an ongoing fad. The fad mostly died out after a couple of years. If you consider the fact that some of the products that claimed to be insects didn’t contain any actual insects, there really weren’t than many real insect food products.

There were only two that I remember, chocolate-covered grasshoppers and chocolate-covered ants. The people who tasted the ants said it reminded them of “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies”. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t have the guts to try them. From what I’ve read recently, some restaurants in the United States are including insects in certain food for the shock value more than the nutrition or the taste.

Insects as Animal Food

When I was young, I saw cats eating cicadas and crickets. By the way, cicadas and locusts are two different insects even if both are edible. Some people I’ve known over the years have called cicadas locusts, so I thought I should clarify that. Since then, I’ve seen cats and other animals eating insects. Reptiles like frogs, snakes and lizards are obvious insect predators. Humans are scientifically classified as animals, but we aren’t animals.

The mother of one of my daughters-in-law calls shrimp, crabs and lobsters the cockroaches of the ocean and won’t even touch them. I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. A cicada is supposed to be distantly related to one sea creature or another.

I eat things today that I would never have tried when I was young, including squid. I haven’t tried any insects and I suppose I would if I found myself in a position where I was hungry enough to eat almost anything. Regardless, it isn’t something I would ever look forward to experiencing.

Photo Attribution: Thomas Schoch, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Author: RT Cunningham
Date: May 14, 2021 (UTC)
Categories: Culture, Food and Drink

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