While the thought of sinking your teeth into a dry roasted caterpillar might sound slightly revolting, in a survival situation it could keep you alive.
For some strange reason most of North America still harbors a deep prejudice towards bugs, especially when referring to them as something eatable. But, considering there are over two billion, (yes, billion with a ‘b’) people worldwide who are already eating insects as part of their diet, maybe it’s time we reconsider.
With over 1900 edible insects thriving around the world and 40-tons of insects on the planet per every single human being, changing the way we think about creepy crawlies might be a good idea.
In places such as Thailand, Mexico, and Indonesia, bugs are big business. Eating bugs is not uncommon in many parts of the world and for the more adventurous connoisseur of crunchy cuisine there are online retailers offering a smorgasbord of tasty bugs prepackaged and ready to be snacked on.
So, if you find yourself in a situation where eating some form of bugs may keep you alive, don’t think of ‘bugs’ as a last resort. They are full of protein, rich in fat and provide some carbs. Think of them as nature’s way of providing an alternative food source for those who refuse to be intimidated.
What’s for dinner? When it comes to bugs, here’s a list of the top ten tastiest.
1. Grasshoppers – During summer and early fall, grasshoppers abound in most of North America. Found on plant stems, grasshoppers can easily be gathered at dusk or dawn and cooked when in need of the next meal. Providing you have some sort of survival gear to cook with, fixing grasshopper will be relatively simple. These bugs can also be boiled, sun-dried, fried, or added to soup and will provide plenty of nutrients and good taste. Beware of multi-colored hoppers, which can be toxic and for safety sake only eat solid colored ones.
2. Crickets – For a quality source of protein try cricket. You might not know it, but 100-gram of cricket contains 12.9-grams of protein. So, if you’re in need of food, they are a quality and tasty alternative. Crickets can be fixed by dry roasting, frying, or simply added as an additional source of protein to most any meal.
3. Ants – When in need of a tasty survival meal, don’t forget ants, ant larvae and ant pupae. Considered a culinary indulgence by some, ants rate quite high on the tasty meter. These little bugs offer high quality protein but do contain less fat than most other insects. Boiled or roasted ants provide both nutrients and flavor.
4. Cicadas – For those living on the East Coast there’s good news. If you ever need survival food consider the cicada. Nymphs or adults make for a tasty meal and can be fixed to perfection by roasting, frying or boiling. These big bugs also provide high levels of protein and vitamins — making them a solid survival food.
5. Mealworms – No joke! Mealworms are a worldwide staple and can provide a premium source of nutrients. As the larvae of the darkling beetle, they can exist in most any environment where they can find food. In the wild, mealworms will be found in decaying wood, leaves or grasses. Sautéed, roasted or boiled, the mealworm can be prepared a multitude of ways. Mild and mushy, the mealworm can be eaten alone or added to additional food to bolster nutrition.
6. Locusts – Mentioned in the bible and considered a ‘kosher’ snack, locusts have been eaten for millenniums. With robust bodies providing plenty to nibble on, the locusts make for a premium survival fare. Stir-fried, boiled or dried, locusts can be prepared in a variety of ways. Rich in protein, zinc and iron, locusts are also a premium source of nutrients.
7. Dragonfly – Often plentiful around bodies of water, dragonflies can be eaten as adults or in larval form. Boiled or fried the dragonfly makes for a delightful dish no matter how it is cooked.
8. Waxworm – As the larvae of the wax moth (the beekeepers nemeses), waxworms offer a nutty flavor. Roasted or sautéed, the waxworm can be the means to a tasty meal. And if you can’t stand the thought of eating a waxworm, bait your hook with it — fish delight in them.
9. Sowbugs – Also known as ‘rolly pollies’ or ‘land shrimp’ these small bugs usually make their home in rotten wood or in the damp soil under rocks. Much like a small crustacean if toasted the sowbug can be eaten crispy, or you can eat them fresh if you prefer.
10. Termites – While mostly thought of as pesky eaters of wood, termites can also be a source of survival food. Their high oil content provides a nutty flavor and they offer a valuable source of protein, essential amino acids and fat. Toasted in a hot pan, baked or boiled termites make for a delectable meal.
While not everyone cares for the thought of indulging in entomorphagy (the eating of insects), bugs are a prolific source of protein and essential vitamins. When in a survival situation these bugs can make for some fantastic snacking along with containing the vital nutrients that could save your life.
The only caveat to bug ingestion is those who suffer from shellfish allergies should avoid bugs for dinner. You also want to be careful if gathering bugs from areas where insecticides or pesticides may have been applied.
And how can you know what bugs are okay to eat. Simply follow this rule, “If it’s green or brown, toss it down. Red, orange or yellow, forgo that fellow.”