Oct 11, 2008

en-toh-MOFF-uh-jee

I truly hope none of you are reading this an lunchtime, unless you are gifted with some intestinal fortitude or a truly sturdy appetite (one of my talents). But Judy, the forwarder of this article from ScienceNews.org, wanted us Westerners to get a taste...hopefully not literally...of what much of the rest of the world eats.

Allow me to introduce you to a new word: entomophagy (en-toh-MOFF-uh-jee). This is the practice among humans of eating insects. This practice has always been popular in many cultures, and is, if anything, becoming increasingly so. Residents of at least 113 nations include insects in their diet. But before you get disdainful of these folks, understand that most processed foods Westerners eat contain bug parts, even if ground up and in small quantities. For instance, do you thing wine makers are able to clean every grape of the spiders and other creepy crawlies that lived in the vines? No. Your wine contains at least a little bit of spider juice, bird droppings, etc. How about that peanut butter? Or even chocolate? Cereals? Most foods we eat at some point came from the good ol' outdoors, and the outdoors includes bugs.

Enjoy that thought.

But still, that is different from actively seeking out bugs to eat, such as this Thai salad featuring grubs and peppers.

Photo source: ScienceNews.org




















I'm not here to convince you to start eating bugs (though many scientist and entomophagy enthusiasts are). My only purpose is to have you read this article and
get grossed out become more aware of this global phenomenon.

An Asian market featuring...everything.


















Thanks Judy. The world just became a bit less appetizing. Or maybe our minds and taste buds a bit more expanded? ... no. My Western-oriented palate says otherwise.

14 comments:

meg said...

Fried mealworms in cheddar powder are delicious!

Yvonne Navarro said...

Saw just such a display by sidewalk endors in Bangkok . Did not, however, try any of them. I had little fried crickets, which are okay but made me feel guilty. Something survivorish to note: 80% of the world's plants are poisonous for humans to eat. 90% of the world's insects are not. Just something to think about if you get lost in the wild world.

Zanna said...

Honestly I would try some of those things. Think about eating shrimp or even lobster- they have exoskeletons and jointed legs and an open circulatory system like any insect, and worse still they're filter feeders- shrimp are like the cockroaches of the sea! A nice grass fed cricket is so much cleaner it's ridiculous, and yet we turn up our noses at having some fried up in butter, while reaching for a plate of shrimp scampi! Seriously.

Shane said...

Aye Zanna, but think about it. How often have the sounds of shrimp kept you up at night? Have you ever had the luck to step on a shrimp barefooted? How many people actualy meet lobsters on a regular basis? <_< I mean, they're pretty arachnid looking (please don't cruxify me). I suppose those are some of the reasons that humans are more apt to eat seafood. It happens to be something that 90% of people don't really SEE in it's natural habitat. I am sure if people were equally oblivious of finding crickets in their yards, maggots in their garbage, and grubs killing their lawns, that people would be more apt to try chowing down on them. ^_^ I'm not really leaning either way on this article, kinda grossed out, but in the same way I know that they are nutritious and such. But as long as I can get my processed foods, I won't intentionally be getting any bugs in my diet. <_< Cept for maybe ground up bettles for the food colorings in yogurt, or things of that nature. Lol.

Zanna said...

Shane, while I see your point, your examples have had the unintended consequence of making me visualize being kept up at night by teeming, nibbling swarms of shrimp. *shudder*. I think I've seen an old 1950s horror film to that effect, lol
:P

Danielle said...

I just threw up in my mouth.

JAS said...

I think crispy or crunchy I could choke down. The thought of eating a squishy caterpillar or grub makes me, as Danielle so eloquently put it, throw up in my mouth!

Bon appetit!

morgan said...

I think shane's point about "eaten but not seen" is easily extended to the world of mammaliophagy (go with me here...)--I think people would be less inclined to eat cows and pigs and such if they had to see the kinds of abuse and squalor they have to endure in the slaughterhouses. *steps off soapbox*

I don't think I would mind the taste so much, and I'd love to try... I just can't get behind the idea of it yet. Someone needs to just put a mealworm or two into my pad thai without my knowledge to ease me into this wide world of available protein...

Yvonne Navarro said...

I distinctly recall that the same info that told me 90% of the world's insects are edible (and are mostly protein) specifically said cockroaches taste "...very, very bad." ugh.

Haphazardkat said...

ok, now thats just WRONG!! *shudder*

meg said...

Ok while I quite enjoy my mealies, they're very crunchy, and when cooked they have pretty much zero gooey factor. They taste like a cross between a potato chip and a meat when they're not seasoned.

I don't think I could choke down a big gooey grub raw, or even cooked...or a thicker bug with nasty-tasting goo in it.

Joe said...

I think the grubs in the first picture are called 'bamboo worms'. Had them once in Bangkok, fried with lemongrass. Much like un-salty anchovies.

Dave said...

I had a roasted grub on a trip to the amazon- while the taste wasn't bad, the chewiness of the exoskeleton gave me a "now or never" decision on swallowing. Seeing as I was being watched by three guides- it had to now. I never wan't to do that again.

idbug (but I don't eat them) said...

While I agree with Shane's comments on shrimp and such, I have to say that most of the time, with shrimp, lobster, and crab, the thing is cleaned before cooking. That is, the intestinal tract and other assorted undesirable parts are removed and discarded. Granted, this is not always the case (I will NEVER eat shrimp at Long John Silver's again, thank you very much), but at least it's possible.

Not so with an insect. Think about it, in eating something that small, whole, you're also eating what would have come out of it, had it lived a bit longer.

And that is something I just can't get past. *shudder*