Bug munching.

You are going to eat insects whether you like it or not.

Really. The Righteous say you will eat them and you will eat them. If you don’t want to gaze upon their chitinous wriggling as you impale them with your really tiny fork, then they will be ground up and hidden in your food and the label will not say ‘made with powdered bluebottle’ in case it puts you off.

Why are we all to feast on roast cockroach and deep-fried centipede? Well, because billions of other people already eat insects so we have to do it to.

What is not considered is the reason so many people have insects on the menu. In most cases, it’s because there is bugger all else to eat! If a whole mass of locusts eat your crops then you eat the locusts. They haven’t left you anything else.

Can anyone imagine turning away a plate of fried chicken with the words ‘Nah. Got any woodlice?’

There is, of course, sound commercial reasoning behind all this. Forget the eco-nonsense, that’s just to get the green loons on board. Clues are in the article, and a big one is ‘they can even be fed on waste’.

Of those people in the world who eat insects, are any of them farming those insects? Mostly they are eaten as caught from the wild. In the wild they have been living on other insects or vegetation. The thing about that is, their guts are full of the vitamins and minerals from the plant material they have stuffed into themselves which is a bonus to the protein content of the insect itself. It’s not just protein, fat and chitin those people are eating. They also get the good stuff from the well-stuffed gut.

If you want to farm insects, you don’t need a farm. There will be no herds of dung beetles grazing quietly in the fields, before being rounded up by a farmer with a trained spider. A big building with loads of boxes is all you need. Battery bugs. There’s no ‘free-range’ in this game and ‘organic’ merely refers to the shit they get fed. The insects on offer will never have felt the sun on their ghastly little carapaces nor the soft earth beneath their creepy little legs.

The feed for these insects will be crap, sometimes literally so. Just because insects can often live on mouldy bread and soggy lettuce doesn’t mean they want to. Locusts, a popular food insect, prefer fresh vegetable matter and when they are full of that they are worth eating. When they are full of chemically treated sewage, they are much less worth eating. What these companies offer is not the generally-quite-healthy bugs that many people eat from the wild, but some factory-farmed shit-bugs that have been raised in darkness and fed on whatever waste material is available for free that day.

This drive to make us all crunch down on a beetle bar is not about health. Not about nutrition and not about the environment.

It’s about money.

I’ll spend mine on the fried chicken, thanks.

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28 thoughts on “Bug munching.

  1. I have actually worked in maggot farms. There are quite a few of them, producing maggots by the ton for fishing baits. The stench is incredible as the maggots feed on rotting meat. To start with I had to breathe through my mouth to avoid throwing up. Apart from one in Ireland, the smell was effectively confined to the inside of the building by a ventilation system which exhausted through beds of damp spaghnum moss, heather and something similar where the microbial population “ate” the smell very effectively. They produce a large amount of ammonia and we provided a sprayer and additive, based on yucca extract which greatly reduced this.

    The maggots were harvested and passed over a series of sieves to produce different sizes and then stored in refrigeration in a dormant state in the heavy plastic boxes which are used for landed fish. I arrived at one plant where the refrigeration had failed and the heat of the lively maggots en masse was sufficient to melt the boxes so that when they were picked up, the bottoms gave way like hot melted toffee.

    There was talk then of streamlining and upsizing the process to produce a high protein maggot meal for feeding to livestock . Some plants were already sending them away in loads of 10 to 20 tons for distribution in smaller quantities to shops selling fishing baits.

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    • At the other end of the chain, my offspring were delighted some years ago to find a rural Canadian foodstore where the live bait was stored on the same fridge shelf as the yoghurts – and in much the same packaging.

      A taste of things to come?

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    • I had not thought of maggot farms despite years of fishinbg. But then, they weren’t intended for human consumption. They were intended to get something else for consumption.

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    • I used to buy maggots 45 years ago – clean and packed in saw dust. To shock my friends, I’d put them in my mouth and pretend to eat them. Fishermen put maggots in their mouths to heat them up and get them wriggling more.

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  2. Now now Leg, don’t tell me you’d turn your back on a nice fat juicy worm covered in chocolate syrup? Just think of the exquisite gastronomic sensations involved in allowing it to slowly slither down one’s gullet — perhaps followed by a discreet sip of absinthe and a dessert of “boflies-in-a-blanket”!

    🙂
    MJM, who shall now return to his evening meal quietly…

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    • Speaking of Soylent Green concepts, I always enjoy pointing out to Antismokers that the decreased ventilation levels that almost ALWAYS exist in restaurants that ban smoking will greatly increase their secondhand cannibalism as they munch down on all the billions of dandruff flakes that are always in the air of such places and settling down on that nice vegetarian salad one is enjoying.

      – MJM

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  3. <i?"I’ll spend mine on the fried chicken, thanks."

    Not on minced ‘chicken’, I trust! Salami manufacturers might be tempted (if they haven’t already) to ‘augment’ their products. So might meat pie and burger manufacturers.

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      • I was once sent to a certain biscit factory in Broxburn, West Lothian!

        Never, and I mean never, NEVER eat anything with a round, crispy sponge base, and a bit of orange flavoured gunk, covered in chocolate!!! (NOT mentioning any names…. of COURSE!) And that was WITHOUT the insects!

        Deep fried scorpions are GREAT, by the way!

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        • We used to drink Guinness and Merrydown cider. One of us was to meet his girlfriend who was fashionably far too late (we were all smashed) and she asked what the hell wer had been drinking. Her boyfriend replied ‘Jaffa cakes. Dark, with a smashing orangey bit in the middle.’

          We all laughed. She didn’t laugh. He had a different girlfriend the next week. He was like that. Git.

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  4. They aren’t, surely, serious about this? No, surely not. Do they honestly think that they’d have any success flogging “bugs for supper” to the very same people who virtually dropped dead from shock at the thought that a little bit of stray horsemeat might have snuck its way into their microwaved lasagne?

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    • They are going to sell it to the generation that has refused to buy stilton cheese because it has fungus in it…

      Hey, I didn’t claim they were working from any kind of basis of common sense here.

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  5. I remember reading a book from the late 19th century penned by some mad English naturalist titled: ‘Why not eat insects? Yum. As our host rightly pointed out, most folk eat ‘wrigglies’ because they are the only option on the menu. Insects can be a good source of protein and some people may even get to consider certain species a delicacy (yum, bloody yum), but that’s not the point………..
    Re the sausage comment: I had a couple of mates who worked in a meat factory in B’ham during the 1960’s. In those days the meat carcasses were piled in the yard prior to processing. In the summer the ‘fly blow’ had to be scraped off before the meat was minced for sausages. Some workers were not so fastidious. House fly egg, premium sausage anyone? Of course this wouldn’t happen today with all the health and safety regulations, would it?

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  6. I think this has legs (six). I saw an article about insect flour. Over 50g protein per 100g. This is going to be big pretty soon. Already insect restaurants.

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  7. Just to be pedantic because one rarely gets the chance to correct you(!) Centipedes are not insects, they are arthropods so closely related. I wouldn’t recommend eating them though, most centipedes/millipedes are quite venomous (Especially that Ed Millipede).

    Woodlice apparently taste like nutty prawns, which actually sounds awesome. At night you can find them by the bucketful on wooden fencing, been seriously considering trying some fried up…

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  8. ::sigh:: Y’all are SOOoooooo behind the times. Being the good uncle that I am, I gave this book to one of my culinary-oriented nieces for Christmas years ago:

    http://www.amazon.com/Entertaining-Insects-Original-Insect-Cookery/dp/0912800372

    Copyright 1976 no less!

    Of course there ARE newer such manuals out there. Here’s one from 2013:

    http://www.amazon.com/Eat—Bug-Cookbook-Revised-Grasshoppers/dp/1607744368

    Hey, any o’ you guyz visiting around Philadelphia, jes’ let me know ‘n I’ll invite ya over fer some homemade grub(s)!

    🙂
    MJM

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