Eating Bugs

Bugs, it's what's for dinner.

by Rick Gush
PHOTO: Rick Gush

I spotted the colorful grub shown above on my office windowsill the other day, and apart from marveling at the wonderful coloration of the creature, I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t eat it. We in the West are culinary wimps in regard to eating insects, and that’s a part of my psychological heritage that I don’t like very much. I wish I was a bug eater, but I’m not. Oh sure, like everybody from California, I’ve eaten a few chocolate-covered grasshoppers, but there is some weird uncertainty that keeps me from putting morsels like this grub in my mouth.

This situation is doubly frustrating because I know where to find a lot of potentially tasty bugs. Feeding hawks and robins with grubs has been a hobby of mine for many years. I’m good at digging around under leaf accumulations in the garden and woods, finding big fat grubs. These grubs can then be placed on a tall post or similar in an area known to contain sparrow hawks or robins. Once the grubs are wiggling, which is attractive to their eaters, I step back out of the way and wait for a bird customer for my offered snack. It doesn’t usually take too long for the birds to swoop down and scoop up the treat. I now find it annoying that I don’t chew on the succulent little creatures myself. I’ll bet they’d be great with a bit of miner’s lettuce or some wild asparagus.

I do think the bug-eating phobia Western society created will fade away in the upcoming decades. I predict that, in the future, many people in the Western world will cultivate worm and insect colonies that turn kitchen waste into edible worms and insects.

I know some farmers here in Italy who raise snails as a crop. Raising insects doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult, and I have raised mealworms. A plastic box filled with sawdust was the basis and then I added some fresh potato or apple and then some grains like oatmeal or birdseed for food. I’ve also raised crickets, and their culture is about the same, but they like a layer of dirt, some egg cartons to give them housing, and fruit and vegetable scraps for feed. I haven’t tried raising worms and crickets together, but it seems like a natural combination. I have raised a lot of worms, and I have a big box full of them now that I use to process our kitchen waste. Perhaps one of these days I’ll use some to make a casserole.

Click here for a nice list of various edible bugs.

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