Due to a recent interest in our six-legged friends, my Argentina travels flipped a u-turn to Thailand to eat some research.
Credit for the inception of this interest goes to my brother Ben, who reminisced a brief memory to Ebin (my other brother) and myself of our grandfather Ellis. The memory was of a hungry fly who landed in Ellis’ sandwich. Being the knowledgeable entomologist he is, he grinned and said, “Mmm protein” as he ate his sandwich with a bonus five calories of pure protein and fiber. That simple memory sparked a growing interest in entomophagy: the consumption of insects as food.
The more we researched, the more excited we got. I had the vagabond itch so I booked a one-way trip to the insect eating capital of the world, Bangkok!
As I was returning home from an eventful first day of exploring Krung Thep, there they were … right around the block from my house. A variety of deep fried six-legged creatures literally staring at me.
I swooped a bag-full and headed to a nearby cafe for my first taste test—kudos to the brave owner who joined me. Here they are in the order we ate them (as seen in the video), as well as what they themselves eat:
- Short Tailed Cricket – These omnivorous will eat anything, even each other when they can’t find anything else. Though they prefer rotting matter. Talk about opportunity for ecology innovation by partnering with local markets to use their past-date produce as cricket feed.
- Silkworm – these guys are essentially the larva or caterpillar of the silkmoth and munch leaves.
- Dung Beetle – these beetles feed on feces. Probably why it’s a good thing to ensure these fellas get deep fried in scorching hot lava – that hot steaming liquid kills off bacteria that can cause Hepatitis. Not trying to get
So at least I hope this guy was deep fried
- Grasshopper – eat plants in the grass family such as corn, wheat, barley and alfalfa. From what I hear from the bug eating fans, these big guys are one of the faves. They were meatier than the others, like beef jerky. Get creative with seasonings, and I could graze on those critters all day.
- Alien Insect – I have no idea what this last one was—seen in the video above @3:50. Generally a bit larger than the grasshoppers and also the freakiest looking. If it looks familiar, PLEASE comment below if you have any information, thanks!
Curious of the nutritional benefit on the specimens compared to some of my other favorite protein sources. I compiled values from national studies by Mark Finke, Dennis Oonincx, Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, May Bernum, and the USDA.
|Serving Size: 100g||Cricket||Silkworm||Dung Beetle||Grasshopper||Chicken, skinless||Beef, 90% lean, ground||Alantic Wild Salmon|
In summary, not only are insects an efficient source of protein, but the nutritional benefits from their exoskeleton are an outstanding source of fiber, iron, calcium, omega 3, B12 and all the essential amino acids. Plus there is much less fat than other proteins like cow, chicken or fish.
Not to mention the environmental and ecological benefits of farming insects for food versus other land and feed needy options are incredible. I’ll save that information for future articles after I’ve conducted more research … and taste tests!
Time to go find farm where these delectable specimens came from. And hopefully I’ll find some scorpions and tarantulas around the next block.
Lastly, I must give credit to Timon and Pumbaa, who first introduced me to the idea of eating bugs.