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 “Historically in global terms, eating insects has been the norm for human beings. It is only in the western world, and in recent times, that it has been viewed as a strange or even revolting practice,” from Insects as Food, The Oxford Companion to Food.

One will eat anything if hungry enough. My older brother regaled in his manliness when recalling eating a plate of roasted bees during a survival exercise when in the Scout movement. In a pitiful sign of the degradation of human spirit in the so called younger generation, I could only boast inwardly, of surviving on a small jar of Marmite which I had paid five shillings for.  This would be the equivalent of maybe ten bucks in modern terms, a king’s ransom for a then eleven year old.

What is the problem with eating insects? It is only a mind set that red meat is the only way to go. With the locust plague set to dent the rebuilding or re greening of central Australia following recent drought breaking rains, maybe Australians could attack the problem with our mouths.

Fried Locusts with Salt

<u>Ingredients:</u>

500gms 1-2 day old locusts

200 grams of butter

400 mls of water

Vinegar

Salt to taste

Remove the limbs and wings and place locusts in a heavy pan with the salt and water. Simmer for about half and hour until they are soft. Then boil until the water evaporates, lower the heat and stir in   the butter. Cook over a low heat until the insects are crisp. Spritz with vinegar and add salt.

Recipe from Thailand   Source: Extreme Cuisine by Jerry Hopkins

“People in several countries collect locusts using large nets and by other means. Locusts are usually stir-fried, roasted or boiled and eaten immediately or dried and eaten later   Locusts are rich in protein.”  Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States.

Under Jewish law which has some strict guidelines as to what may or may not be eaten, locusts are one of the few insects that may be consumed. They even get a mention in the Bible.

 “Eat raw with wild honey” Matthew 3:4

As reported in the Herald Sun, Joe Carrazza from Pizza Café in Mildura is this year offering a locust pizza. However, I cannot see a MacBug burger catching on.

So what is our aversion to eating insects? They are rich in protein although relatively high in calories also. They are easy to farm in large numbers with minimal environmental impact. Insects generally have a higher food conversion efficiency than more traditional meats. To everyone I surveyed the most common answer to the question of why they would not eat insects was simply “ Yuck!” Another common answer was they are dirty and unhygienic.

In Australia the Aborigine traditionally ate many insects including ants, a favourite being the honey pot ant. The honey pot ant diet comprises honeydew, a thick sugary substance secreted by aphids and other scaly insects. The ant lives underground but when a nest was discovered the nest was dug up, the ant head removed and the body eaten for a tasty and energy providing snack.

Honey is a product by product of insects and yet we have no aversion to consuming it.

Even cockroaches are quite edible. A cockroach has three times the amount of protein found in chicken and apparently according to David Gordon in his book “The Complete Cockroach,”  and tastes like shrimp. Food scientists concur the best vehicle to offer cockroach to western people will be as a spreadable paste. A scourge on you that sneer at me as I scan the labels in the aisles of the supermarket, I have my reasons and no one will be slipping a cockroach passed me. When it does arrive on our shelves it will not be obvious. It will not be called Cockymite or Cockroach Butter you can bet your bottom dollar on that.

As it turns out westerners do consume insects unbeknownst to them. Whilst it is generally unacceptable to supply food stuffs contaminated with live insects, dead insects or parts of them do make it on to our plates. Grains are particularly susceptible to some contamination by insects and who would know and therefore care. What you don’t know don’t matter right? Aphids, thrips, maggots, eggs, are all allowed up to certain permissible levels.

And anyway, it was said to me you cannot claim to be a true Australian unless you have swallowed at least three flies. For now, whilst I work out a mouth watering recipe for insects I will have to be content with the caterpillar found at the bottom of some brands of Tequila. By the time the Tequila is finished I reckon I could eat anything, maybe even a locust or cockroach. Some of the things I have eaten at that stage would probably have been worse.

 

Published: Oct 27, 2010 5:59am by shaun.

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4 comments

Comments

  • My Goodness

    Sounds like we have to rethink our food pantry.
    Plus I love crunchy snacks!

    Published Nov 3, 2010 8:12pm by huntervalleyhampers

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