The Excellence of Entomophagy- How Eating Insects Can Get You Jacked
M. Renfield, aged 59. Sanguine temperament, great physical strength,
morbidly excitable, periods of gloom, ending in some fixed idea which I
cannot make out. I presume that the sanguine temperament itself and the
disturbing influence end in a mentally-accomplished finish, a possibly
dangerous man, probably dangerous if unselfish.” – John Seward.
It’s pretty rare, even in the modern era, that one refers to a 59 year
old man as either having great physical strength or of being “possibly
dangerous”, provided his name isn’t John Grimek and he’s not carrying a
loaded firearm. RM Renfield, however, was considered to be both, in an
era when life expectancy in the United States was right around 45 years.
Sure, you might say, but RM Renfield (the nutjob thrall to Count Dracula in the Bram Stoker novel) wasn’t a real person, so this
conversation is about as useful as pixelated Japanese pornography. Not
so, however, because I’m going to take a leap of logic and ascribe the
great strength and dangerous nature of Renfield’s character not to a
flight of fancy, but rather to his diet.
Anyone who’s seen a Dracula movie is familiar with Renfield’s diet- he’s
the dude crazier than a bag of wet cats eating mealworms in the lunatic
asylum. Tom Waits apparently munched on one in the filming of the
cinematic travesty Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and though that had most
viewers in the West recoiling in horror, it happens that 80% of the
world’s population eats insects as a part of their regular diet. In
fact, it’s only the pinkies-up-when-quaffing-our-champagne developed
Western world that doesn’t partake of our exoskeleton-clad friends, as
we can afford far more expensive protein sources than insects (Michels).
They love their bugs in Thailand.
The practice of eating arthropods (non-seafaring ones), which modern
science refers to as entomophagy, is shared by all primates and is
ubiquitous to every corner of the world. Over 3,000 ethnic groups
around the world are known to engage in this practice, and the number of
creepy-crawlies they eat makes the “diversity” of my own diet seem
laughable- I never even considered the fact that there were over 1,400
species of meat-sicles for me to eat, but then I despise seafood and
generally stick to beef and chicken (Ramos-Elorduy 13, 44). As you
might have noticed by my qualification, most people are already used to
eating one type of arthropod- crustaceans. The other three types,
insects, spiders/scorpions/horseshoe crabs, and trilobites, are all
related edible species. Well, one would assume trilobites would be
edible, but they’re extinct. In any event, eating arthropods is hardly
unknown in the West.
The Club of Rome is Full of good news. Don’t worry- this is how we’re going to hang onto our gains in the coming apocalypse.
Though it’s become very popular among the effete and the “green” to
advocate the consumption of insects as a protein source, just as the
Club of Rome nuts advocated soy
as the savior of all mankind in the 1970s, Western authors have been
advocating for the consumption of insects at least as far back as the
1880s, with the publication of
Why Not Eat Insects?
As many of us in the strength community, at least those in the know,
are averse to faddism, one might otherwise shy from a discussion about
insects as a protein source- once something is advocated in the New
Yorker, most skeptics turn a blind eye. This concept, however, has both
precedent and merit, as the consumption of insects is so common and in
many cases lauded. Why then, do we shun the the creepy crawlies all around us as a food source?
Damned if I know, because by all accounts, insects are good eating.
“Because of their exoskeleton most insects give off very little odor
and, therefor, smell has little influence on palatability. Conversely,
this same shell greatly influences texture. Insects are crunchy and the
act of chewing, couples with the resulting salivation, carries with it
great oral satisfaction, similar to the pleasure of eating pretzels or
crackers. The exoskeleton is chewable and is actually an excellent
source of fiber” (Ramos-Elorduy 16). After spending time in Cambodia,
Angelina Jolie stated that her kids were eating crickets “like Doritos”
because they loved them so much (Angelina), and the wealthy housewives
of Mexico City flock to upscale restaurants for a dish referred to as
“Mexican Caviar”, which is actually boiled ants’ eggs (Armstrong).
Dubious? This dish, known as escamoles, was selling for $25 a plate in
1999, which means it’s running closer to $35 these days if one adjusts
for inflation (Defoliart 36). White “gusanos”, or maguey worms, which
are larvae of the skipper butterfly, sell for the same price, and the
harvesters of those two insect dishes are the richest people in rural
Mexico (Defoliart 37). Apparently, eating bugs the bee’s knees.
I am psychically sensing that no one is as yet on board with this idea.
Would it help to know that ancient Romans, conquerors of the Western
World, ate snails and referred to grasshoppers, which were eaten
incredibly frequently, as ‘four legged fowl'” (Brothwell 66, 70)? Or
that ancient Greeks, rampaging through East Asia on an empire-building
mission led by the inimitable Alexander, thought cicadas were one of the
world’s great delicacies (Brothwell 70)? Eating snails in the desert
could actually keep you alive in lieu of finding a water source, as a
snail common to Libya, the Eremina, would be sufficient to enable
survival for days if eaten in sufficient quantity (Brothwell 67). Not
in the desert but trying to get ripped? Fried termites are the ultimate
keto food- their exoskeletons provide fiber, and the rest of them is
44% fat and 36% protein, and rocks hard as a caloric belly bomb at 560
calories per 100 grams (Brothwell 68). On a hike through the desert,
leaving the granola at home and bringing a big bag of snails and another
of fried termites would have you crushing trails like you’re a one man
by those scars, Edward James Olmos got less ass in high scool than I
did, which is impressive. How do you get negative amounts of ass?
I realize that this is, quite literally, hard to stomach- the thought of
eating insects is more repellent than Edward James Olmos’s acne scars.
I can attest, however, to the fact that ants actually taste pretty
awesome. In a hilariously failed effort to get small children to leave
me alone at a backyard party- I tried to gross them out by eating ants.
I ate a hell of a lot of them. Instead of grossing them out by eating
what essentially taste like tiny little lemonades, the little bastards decided I was officially the coolest adult on Earth, and they
proceeded to collect a wide array of bugs for me to eat. As I had no
interest in having a live grasshopper in my mouth, I declined. The
memory, however, still serves to remind me that bugs definitely taste
better than you’d think. According to people braver than I, here’s what
the most popular edible insects taste like:
I were trying to sell beetles to people as food, this is not the
posterchild I’d pick. Nevertheless, there aren’t many picks of
Westerners happily munching beetles, so you people will have to settle
for a forlorn Sub-Saharan African.
Most beetle larvae taste like pork rinds, and those from aquatic
environments have a fishy flavor (Ramos-Elorduy 20-21). One type of
beetle, the sago palm weevil, is supposed to taste exactly like
- Butterflies and moths.
These are, thankfully, always eaten in the larval or pupal stage.
Their flavor depends on the environment where they lived and the manner
in which they’re prepared- some taste like chicken, others like codfish
and herring. The white agave (the worm at the bottom of bottles of
mescal) is the most popular insect in the world from a luxury
standpoint- a kilo of them costs $32-$35 (Ramos-Elorduy 21). Like the
white agave in South America,caterpillars are considered delicacies in
southern African countries. Because it eats nothing but bee wax and
honey, the wax moth caterpillar / wax worm, apparently tastes like an
enoki mushrooms mixed with pine nuts (Strochlic).
- Bees, wasps and ants.
Wasps are known for their pine nutty flavor. Bees, however, range in
flavor from pine nuts, peanuts, or almonds. Ants are almost always
nutty, though certain species have a citrusy flavor (Ramos-Elorduy 23)
- Grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. Grasshoppers
are the most consumed type of insect in the world, and their flavor
depends entirely on their method of preparation (Ramos-Elorduy 24).
Some people describe cooked locust as similar to smoky bacon, which
most of you should get excited about (Dubois). Africans call them
“desert shrimp”, though, and claim they taste quite a lot like the
locust’s sea faring cousin (Murray). There, the dip fried locusts in a
chili powder called yaji (
the recipe for that is here),
and it’s basically become one of the most sought-after protein sources
in Nigeria in recent years. As such, I’d start here or with ants and a
bunch of sriracha.
- Flies and mosquitoes.
The flavor of flies depends on where they were raised. Flies raised on
cheese (like in Sardinia) taste like cheese, while ones from water
environs taste like duck. Fresh mosquitoes taste like fish
- Water boatmen and backswimmers.
I grew up calling these things water striders, but irrespective of what
you call them, their eggs are known as Mexican caviar and taste like
fish when fresh and shrimp when dried (Ibid)
- Stink bugs.
Horrible as it would seem to eat one of these noxious monstrosities,
they’re damn good for you. They possess anesthetic and analgesic
properties, and add an apple flavor to sauces. Additionally, they
contain iodine, which is awesome for people in regions where it is not
readily available (Ibid). Just don’t eat them raw, or the toxins they
contain might kill you.
- Witchetty (witjuti) grubs.
Apparently these are only found in the land of Crocodile Dundee, but
the larva of the cossid moth has been a staple in the diets Aborigines
for centuries. These little high protein, mobile boogers taste like
almonds, and when cooked their the skin becomes crisp like roasted
Having seen wolf spiders up close, all I can think when approached by a
spider as big as my fist, all I am capable of is complete arachnid
destruction. For those of you who can stave off the “destroy
everything” Hatebreed-esque respond and just stick to simple
murder, tarantulas are said to taste like to soft-shell crab or
shrimp (Strochlic). As I hate seafood almost as much as spiders, I’ll
leave that to you lunatics to test.
weird in the above list is that the favorite of internet weirdos, paleo
outliers, super-green non-vegan psychopaths, and every bizarre foodie
on Earth is the mealworm. When looking for Thanksgiving Day recipes, I
happened upon 10,000 recipes involving mealworms, for no reason
whatsoever. Mealworms are apparently the business. They can be eaten live,
they can be pan-fried, or you can do what most people do- dry-roast
those nasty little sons of bitches. Dry roasted mealworms would make
for excellent post-apocalyptic food, if nothing else- roasting removes
most of their moisture and retains all of their nutrition. On top of
that, they apparently taste just like peanuts, but lack the allergens
that have housewives all over America crapping their collective pants
(even though it’s half as common as bee sting allergy), and their macro
nutrient and amino acid profiles ball harder than P Diddy in a room full
of ATMS and big bootied white women. Mealworm meat compares incredibly
favorably with red meat, as mealworms average between 45-55g protein,
40-57g fat, and 1.4-2.3g fiber per 100g of dry weight. As for aminos,
they contain more of every amino strength trainers care about
(especially leucine) than beef:
(T. molitor = tenebrio molitor = mealworm beetle)
Please disregard the hilarious mispelling of “beef”. Not sure who fell asleep at the wheel proofing this academic paper.
I don’t own anything ironically, don’t wear tweed, and cannot stand
indie rock, I’ve not yet tried eating mealworms. Since I lack that
hipster street cred, I’ll just relay the preparation methods for
mealworms I’ve found in case you’re curious:
roasted mealworms can be salted or dipped in chocolate and eaten as a
snack, sprinkled on salads, and added to soup. They taste a lot like
peanuts and can replace nuts in cookies, cakes, and other desserts.
Since roasted worms are brittle, they can be ground and mixed with flour
when you bake muffins, pancakes, or bread. The different ways these
insects can be added to recipes is almost limitless.
How to dry roast mealworms
your live mealworms in a colander and toss and rinse them under cool
water. This is to remove any food and substrate from the worms. Be sure
to pick out any dead worms or pupae.
the worms dry with paper towels, place them in a container or plastic
bag, and put them in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. This will
quickly kill the worms.
the mealworms out evenly on a non stick cookie sheet. If you are
worried that the worms may stick, you can lightly grease the sheet.
the worms in an oven at 200 degrees and bake them for one to two hours
until they are dry and crispy. Some people do not like the smell of
baking worms and prefer to cook them outside on a gas grill set to a low
worms aren’t your bag, it’s not just mealworms that crush red meat in a
battle to protein overdose induced kidney-failure death- insects in
general hand beef and chicken a pretty stout ass whipping. They’re
crazy high protein, keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, organic, naturally
fed, free-range, and the only carbs they contain are fiber, so they have
no chance of throwing you out of ketosis.
most of you, this will have absolutely no impact on your life- you’ll
just carry on eating the same poorly fed, poorly treated, factory farmed
animals… as will I, likely. This information is likely going to fall
into the “good-to-know” category, then, but if you ever find yourself
in a situation wherein you’re heading facefirst into catabolism without a
helmet fashioned from an array of protein bars, you know know you can
get your anabolism on ancient Greek and Roman style. One thing to note,
however, is that not all insects are edible. Though the list I’m about
to give you (Bryant, “How”, seems pretty much a full listing of
insects, it’s apparently not. I’m not an entomologist and don’t pretend
to play one on TV, so I’m not even going to make an attempt to help you
identify the safe ones.
They are, however:
- Anoplura – lice
- Orthoptera – grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches
- Hemiptera – true bugs
- Homoptera – cicadas and treehoppers
- Hymenoptera – bees, ants and wasps
- Diptera – flies and mosquitoes
- Coleoptera – beetles
- Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths
- Megaloptera – alderflies and dobsonflies
- Odonata – dragonflies and damselflies
- Ephemetoptera – mayflies
- Trichoptera – caddisflies
- Plecoptera – stoneflies
- Neuroptera – lacewings and antlions
- Isoptera – termites
that most of us couldn’t tell a caddisfly from a sparrow, you might
want to bear in mind the following little rhyme if you decide to much on
“Red, orange yellow, forget this fellow.
Black, green or brown, wolf it down”
also best to avoid eating overly colorful bugs or bugs with a strong
odor (Bryant, “Entomophagy”), as that sort of gay pride parade style
flamboyant is intended to warn predators they’ll get wrecked if they
try and mess with the bugs. If that’s all you have for eating, just
boil, roast, or smoke the bug. Boiling is the safest way to kill of
toxins, but roasting or smoking should serve the same purpose, and any
kind of cooking will vastly improve the taste and texture (Bryant,
Entomophagy: Third world tested, hippie broad approved.
So there you have it. Bugs, they’re what’s for a ketogenic, paleolithic, green, socially conscious dinner.
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