Apocalypse Dieting: Edible Insects

JoannaPrototype

When was the last time you ate something that you didn’t like just for nutritional value? Putting aside those of us that take vitamins and pills, it was probably when you were a child. Your mother or father cooked a particularly unappetizing meal and when you made a face, they gave you the old, “You can eat what I cook, or you can go to bed hungry” line. Well if you were anything like me as a child, you went to bed hungry quite a bit. Occasionally I was told I could scrounge something up myself, which usually meant I could eat ramen noodles.

Thinking back on those times and forward toward the idea of eating bugs, I realize I may have been a little hard on my mother’s cooking. If it was down to eating my mom’s infamous vomit flavored soup (she thought it was delicious), or eating a handful of ants, I’ll take the puke soup every time.

Scrounging for food will take on a whole new meaning to modern society once the Dead roam the earth. Trust you will be wishing for those ramen noodle when you are sitting on the side of the road trying to decide between beetles and crickets for dinner.

It is inevitable, you will eventually either have to eat bugs or starve to death. You actually already eat quite a few bugs without even realizing it, but that is a whole nother article. Despite being unappetizing, insects are actually a good and easy source of protein and many vitamins. In a pinch, there are a number of different insects you can eat.

The first thing you will want to learn when you are searching for bugs to eat, is how to tell which insects might be poisonous or toxic. Insects to stay away from include those with brightly colored hues, such as red, orange, and yellow. Black, brown, and green are thought to be safe colors. More or less you just want to avoid any brightly colored insects just to be safe. However if you find yourself not sure as to whether something is safe to eat, you can always do the Universal Edibility Test. It is also highly recommended that you stay away from insects that give off any kind of odor, as this is a sign of toxicity.

Another thing to remember, especially in urban areas, is pesticides. Many of the insects you will find in urban areas will have at least traces of pesticides on them. Too much of this can severely damage your digestive system and cause serious illness.

Now that you have a decent idea of what to avoid, let’s jump into what you should be looking for. As I said before, there are a variety of different insects that are edible. The starter on our list is probably the easiest to come by. I refer of course to our picnic ruining friends from the dirt mound, Ants.

Ants:

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There are several different types of ants that are safe to eat. These include carpenter ants, leaf cutter ants, honey pot ants, and lemon ants. Ants can be eaten in either adult or larva form. The larva can be found in clumps under rocks or top of ant hills. The best way to capture ants is to put a stick on top of an ant hill and wait for it to be covered in ants. Then either roast the ants or shake them off into a container and close it tight to suffocate them. The preferred method is to roast them because ants secrete a vinegary substance when threatened that makes them taste bitter when eaten raw. Suffocating them can increase the secretion and make them taste even worse.

Grasshopper/Crickets:

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Grasshoppers and crickets are actually one of the more nutritious insects, containing both calcium and protein. About 20.6 grams of protein for every 100 grams of insects eaten. Crickets are the most commonly eaten insect in Mexico, Thailand, and Cambodia and are often served covered in flavored powder or chocolate.

Flies/Fly Pupae:

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“Ewwwwww. They fly around poop!” Yea, I know, I know. I think we’ve gotten past the point of being picky here. Common house flies can actually be cooked and eaten in adult or larva form. Shaped like small red pills, Musca domestica L or fly pupae, contain a fatty acid pattern similar to many fish oils.

Cockroaches:

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Cockroaches can be cooked and eaten. It’s said that the better the cockroach’s diet was, the better they taste. So wild cockroaches taste better than the ones in your basement. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are said to taste and feel like eating greasy chicken.

Cicada:

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If the Zom Poc happens to go down during cicada season, then we are opened up to a whole new menu option. Just after molting cicadas have a soft, edible body.

Centipedes:

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Centipedes are actually eaten as a street food in China. They are screwed and roasted whole. You must be careful though that you do not confuse millipedes for centipedes. Millipedes are smaller, with more legs and are very poisonous.

Caterpillars:

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Caterpillars are a tricky one. You have to be very careful because while some caterpillars are quite nutritious, others are highly toxic. Refer to the signs of toxicity when deciding whether to eat a certain caterpillar. The ones that are edible however, contain high amounts of protein and iron, have little fat, and even some essential B vitamins like niacin and thiamine.

Termites:

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Termites can actually be eaten raw, straight from the mound or wood. Indigenous people ate termites like seeds or nuts.

June Bugs:

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Edible in both adult and larva form, June bugs were dug up by Indigenous people and eaten like popcorn.

Agave Worms:

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Most famous for their role confirming the proof of tequila, these little guys are actually a great source of protein.

Roly Polies:

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Also known as Pill Bugs, these are actually terrestrial crustaceans, closely related to lobsters. They are said to even turn red when boiled.

A few more edible insects that you can put on your new toad inspired diet are; Dragonflies, Dung Beetles, Locusts, Mealworms, Scorpions, Tarantulas, and Wasps.

So, when the cans run out and the animals become scarce, fear not, there is still a whole world of edible options available right under your feet!

For more information on edible insects and other things, check out all the great books on Amazon like;

Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope for the Planet

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