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The Official Entomophagy Thread! (Eating Bugs)

 
Posts: 11
Location: Nevada County, CA
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Hi everyone! I know I'm new around these parts, but I am eager to get some minds together on the fascinating topic of Entomophagy! Please post any interesting info you find, and definitely keep us updated on any experiments you are doing in this field! There is not a lot of info out there on the topic, and I would very much like to see that change!

I first ate bugs as part of my diet (and not just on a dare) while doing some agriculturally oriented missionary work in Africa (personally, I was more interested in feeding people than saving their souls). Several nights during the termite mating season, we would turn on the church generators and light the place up like a landing strip. That being the only electricity in at least 5 miles, millions and millions of termites descended on the windows and floodlights. The whole village turned out and people were collecting buckets, bags, and baskets full of termites, all the while talking and laughing with neighbors and enjoying handfuls of the termites raw, wings and all. I tried a few raw and probably won't do that again, but the ones I took home and lightly sauteed with some onions were actually quite good!

After pondering raising bugs for myself I found a good TEDx talk on Entomophagy (TEDx Talk) and was delighted to know that I wasn't alone in my interest. There are many new insect farming efforts going on all over the world, to fill the void between demand and wild-harvested. The feed conversion rates for insects are outstanding, and for every 10 pounds of feed we can get 9 pounds of a foodstuff high in protein, vitamins and minerals!

I plan on starting a small mealworm farm in the next few weeks. I am not worried about profits at this point, just fascination and education, but why shouldn't there be grasshopper or mealworm appetizers on happy hour menus across the country!? I might see if I can at least regain my costs through local sales to reptile owners and whatnot, and maybe try to drum up some human interest while manning farmer's market booths this season.



Thanks in advance for your input!
 
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I ate some Red Wigglers (not insects) but found they smelled and tasted too "wormy" so prefer to eat my worms in the form of eggs and chicken meat.

 
pollinator
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Excellent Tread! Thanks Scott. I'm new to Entomophagy. Just picked up a book recommend by a fellow Permie. "Man Eating Bugs: The Art And Science of Eating Insects" by Menzel and D'Aluisio Very interested in experimenting with insect cuisine. It seems like a logical addition to my wild / permie food recipes. First, I need to learn identification, prep & cooking techniques and flavors. Any chef using entomophagy, books, links? Thanks.
 
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I am an entomologist. I have eaten honeybee larvae, mealworms, moth larvae, fried ants, roasted crickets dipped in chocolate and other things I have forgotten. I ate them for the novelty factor. The moth larvae were part of a trail mix and were not noticeable. The honeybee larvae tasted like little drops of honey, and the mealworms were stir fried and had a nut-like flavor. These are the insects I could stand to eat.
 
Scott Farmer
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One of my favorites in East Africa was roasted locust, crushed and blended with butter and date puree. Had the same bug a few tasty ways, and would love to farm some nice big grasshoppers if my initial mealworm experiments encourage me to go further.

I would love to get to the point where more Americans turn to insects as an affordable, sustainable protein!
 
Rick Roman
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News article in The Guardian-"Insects Could Be The Planet's Next Food Source" It highlights an Entomophagy Festival in London called "Pestival 2013".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/mar/02/insects-next-food-source
 
Scott Farmer
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Rick Roman wrote:News article in The Guardian-"Insects Could Be The Planet's Next Food Source" It highlights an Entomophagy Festival in London called "Pestival 2013".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/mar/02/insects-next-food-source



Thanks for sharing! Articles like this are very encouraging and really push me to get going! One glaring problem with the opening paragraph: " Insects have long been overlooked as food in all but a handful of places around the world ..." Absolutely not true. It is estimated that 80% of the world's population have insects as a regular part of their diet. The western industrial food system is once again the backwards one!

Still looking for an air date for the mentioned BBC documentary, but the interview with the guy who made it is good! www.splendidtable.org/will-eating-bugs-solve-the-worlds-food-problems

 
Rick Roman
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Resource for Entomophagy. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Edible Forest Insects

http://www.fao.org/forestry/edibleinsects/65428/en/
 
steward
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It will be a long time until eating insects catches on in the West other than as a novelty. Same with horses and dogs. There are deep psychological and cultural hurdles to overcome. Myself , I will try anything but why ? If I can raise fowl why would I raise bugs to eat ? Bon Appetit !
 
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We've eaten grasshoppers, or here in Mexico, they are called Chapulines:



http://www.velacreations.com/food/animals/insects/item/99-grasshoppers.html

I think there is a time of the year for harvesting, basically, get them before breeding season, and there is more meat in them.

The best thing for eating insects, in my opinion, is to prepare them, and then grind them into a meal that can be added to other foods.

But another thing is that a lot of people talk about the efficiency of insects. The research I have seen indicates that they are not that efficient. I've seen studies claim 3:1 FCR for crickets. That's on par with a chicken, a bit better than pigs. Crickets require a lot more infrastructure than bigger animals, mainly because they can climb easily.

Another point - most insects raised for human food are raised on grain. We know that's not really the best way. Though a cricket tractor has a lot more practical issues than a chicken tractor, really.

So, while insects have their place in a diet, a lot of their supposed advantages are exaggerated, if you plan to raise them specifically for food.

I am more interested to find how insects can integrate into a food system and contribute to livestock food (poultry, pigs, and fish).
 
pollinator
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I think feeding insects to fish in aquaculture operations is one of the best ways to farm fish sustainably, as in without depleting wild populations of smaller fish to feed them at a poor FCR. I'll try them, myself, but I really see the potential as a high protein feedstock from natural sources for any omnivorous critter we keep to feed ourselves.

-CK
 
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Scott Farmer wrote:Hi everyone! I know I'm new around these parts, but I am eager to get some minds together on the fascinating topic of Entomophagy! Please post any interesting info you find, and definitely keep us updated on any experiments you are doing in this field! There is not a lot of info out there on the topic, and I would very much like to see that change!

I first ate bugs as part of my diet (and not just on a dare) while doing some agriculturally oriented missionary work in Africa (personally, I was more interested in feeding people than saving their souls). Several nights during the termite mating season, we would turn on the church generators and light the place up like a landing strip. That being the only electricity in at least 5 miles, millions and millions of termites descended on the windows and floodlights. The whole village turned out and people were collecting buckets, bags, and baskets full of termites, all the while talking and laughing with neighbors and enjoying handfuls of the termites raw, wings and all. I tried a few raw and probably won't do that again, but the ones I took home and lightly sauteed with some onions were actually quite good!

After pondering raising bugs for myself I found a good TEDx talk on Entomophagy (TEDx Talk) and was delighted to know that I wasn't alone in my interest. There are many new insect farming efforts going on all over the world, to fill the void between demand and wild-harvested. The feed conversion rates for insects are outstanding, and for every 10 pounds of feed we can get 9 pounds of a foodstuff high in protein, vitamins and minerals!

I plan on starting a small mealworm farm in the next few weeks. I am not worried about profits at this point, just fascination and education, but why shouldn't there be grasshopper or mealworm appetizers on happy hour menus across the country!? I might see if I can at least regain my costs through local sales to reptile owners and whatnot, and maybe try to drum up some human interest while manning farmer's market booths this season.



Thanks in advance for your input!



I have written a book on the nutritional content of insects. Feel free to check it out. It's called "The Dietitian's Guide to Eating Bugs." It's very much a work in progress and much of it is incomplete, but I intend to have it complete in a few weeks.

Here's the link:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/160318509/The-Dietitian-s-Guide-to-Eating-Bugs
 
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Found this thread and couldn't resist, though it seems to be dead.

From what I've read, it seems bugs take a bit of preparation before consuming, like pulling legs off crickets so they don't get caught in your throat.

Bear with me a moment while I try to explain my thought on a more palatable way, to me at least, to consume these critters.

I recently bought the "As seen on TV" Nutribullet. It's basically a high speed blender that turns fruits and veggies and nuts/seeds into a smoothie so you can drink the food, pulp and all. It's not a true juicer, as the pulp is also consumed. The Ninja blender is supposed to do the same, so I imagine it would work for this idea, as well.
For me, not liking the taste of vegetables, the Nutribullet allows me to consume healthy raw vegetables every day without having to taste them. By adding a handful of frozen raspberries/blackberries/blueberries, the smoothie tastes fruity, though it is mostly kale and broccoli and whatever else I throw in. (Kale and broccoli are usually daily ingredients, but I do mix it up a bit with other fruits and veggies)

What does this have to do with bugs? Well, if I had to eat a jar full of crickets on a dare, I'd cook them and throw them in the Nutribullet, along with a handful of berries. Pretty sure it would taste fruity, rather than buggy. As an added bonus, the Nutribullet and Ninja both obliterate food into itty-bitty unrecognizable bits that aren't even big enough to be called lumpy. I'm fairly sure cricket legs would be obliterated, since these blenders shatter chia seeds with no problem.

2 out of 3 of my meals a day are large smoothies. I eat whatever my wife cooks for dinner, sans cooked green veggies. Maybe others could never eat this way, but it works well for me. I've lost weight and after a month of this, I do notice I feel better in general. A large smoothie keeps me satisfied for about 4 hours, if you were wondering.

And, that's my idea for a way to consume bugs without having to see them on your plate or taste them. (I can hear some of you crying foul right now. It's not fair unless you see and taste the bugs! Go right ahead, I say. Just don't expect most other people to change their diet to include bugs under those restrictions). For me, making smoothies opens the door to eat foods that are healthy, but unappealing to me. Cook broccoli and the smell alone makes me want to gag---I'd rather eat a live bug. Raw broccoli in a smoothie that tastes like fruit, no problemo. I have little doubt it would be the same for bugs.

I plan to grow Amaranth for the leaves and seeds. The whole plant is edible, the nutritional content of leaves and stalk are supposed to be on par with kale, and it is supposed to grow like a weed with little special attention. Seems a perfect cheap ingredient for my smoothies, if it's just growing in my yard.

If this works, the next question is, can one raise enough bugs at home to provide meals every day? How big a bug farm would be needed for self sufficiency? Can I feed the bugs mainly amaranth? Is there a feed for them made from plants not traditionally consumed by people, so we're not feeding them grain or corn we could be eating?
 
Abe Connally
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it's easy to grow insects. Crickets, mealworms, and grubs are simple. I like the Open Source Bug Kit: http://www.openbugfarm.com/buy-a-kit.html that forum is good, too.
 
Abe Connally
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Here is how we raise mealworms, it's an easy system, and produces about 1.5 lbs of mealworms a week. http://velacreations.com/howto/mealworm-farm/
 
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Abe, I like your mealworm system. I've been just separating them by hand for now, but obviously that's not going to cut it long term

So, the eggs in your adult beetle bin work their way through the wheat bran/oat mixture and through the nylon into the bin below?
 
Abe Connally
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yes, they fall through the screen into a tray below that has a solid bottom. Then, once they have hatched and grown a bit, we put them in a grow out tray that has a fine nylon mesh bottom to filter out the frass.

having them all in one bin is easier, but our system maximizes production, and it takes about 2 or 3 minutes a week to manage, so it is well worth it. I haven't been able to find any other system that can match our performance in the same footprint.

For all intents and purposes, this could totally supply a person with all of their protein requirements in about 1.5 square feet of space. Nothing else even comes close.
 
Alex Veidel
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Is there any particular reason for the aluminum foil siding besides keeping them contained? Or would solid wall containers work just as well?
 
Abe Connally
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anything solid that they can't climb would work. Plastic, aluminum, etc.
 
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Hi there! I'm new to Entomophagy and desperately trying to get a grip on it. What to eat, what tastes great and the like. I'm on the road a lot and therfore like mobile apps because I don't want to carry books with me all the time. I found "Bug Cookbook Gourmet's edition" for a start on Play Store. Can anybody recommend more apps? What works for you? Thanks, B.L.
 
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The other eat the bugs thread. pdf book listed there.
https://permies.com/t/44889/bugs/Entomophagy-section-eat-bugs
 
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Way back when i was a kid my parents received --saw it then as -- a joke gift from friends returning from France. A tin, as such as one would receive sardines, containing fried grasshoppers. Then another of fried ants. That was in the early 70's. I since surmised escargot (fried snails) was like the gateway drug leading to this. Plus from reading above France's proximity and relationship with Africa likely both paved the way. Tho i dont think France needs no gateway. They may be a just a step or short chunnel drive from us Angled-philes, but seem light years ahead in this respect anyway. For if there wasn't a market for fried bugs in France then those bugs wouldn't have been on their market. Come to think that may've been as far back as late 1960's. For us they'd have to be chocolate covered, or at least sugar coated, our real gateway drug (reflect on Halloweens past). Scary thoughts, eh. Eating candy till feeling sick and still eat more. Gawd if that didn't set us up for our diabetes/cancer/heart disease trinity of real time horror statistics, I dont know what did. Ogre Nick
 
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I tried scorpions (not really a bug, per se) and silkworm cocoons in China. Had to brace myself to eat the former, but they were really good, like shrimp. The cocoons were more starchy, kind of like potatoes.
 
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Now here's a topic I can add to.  I've tried a bunch of different insects.

The best, in my tastes, are aphids.  Aphids grown on something you'd like to eat, specifically.  Not a poisonous plant - no aphids off a datura, for example.  Aphids off roses taste a bit like roses, aphids off brassicas have that slight brassica bite to them.  Aphids are sweet and quite innocuous.  And sometimes there can be quite a lot of them.  Whenever someone asks me how to deal with aphids, I suggest eating them, but thus far it has been one of my less popular recommendations.

Ants have that formic acid taste, and I didn't find them very pleasant to eat.

Termites are very good.  A little buttery.  And now I can digest wood. (Just kidding.)  But taste one and you'll see why birds go nuts.  I used to love the termite days in Oregon, where huge clouds of them come out to mate, and they can be caught in large quantities for one's birds, for example.  Or your own termite burgers. :-) Termites were the only thing that could keep our birds up late.

Let's see, other than those, where I grew up in Oregon didn't have a huge amount of other bugs that seemed edible. And I didn't want to eat something that seemed rare.  We had plagues of tent caterpillars, amazing hoards of spotted millipedes, and those flagrantly mating pairs of  red and black plant bugs - but if no other creature wanted to eat them, I didn't try them either.  I never tried any invertebrates were brightly colored, for example, since that's a warning sign to birds not to eat them.

Grasshoppers raw aren't very appealing.  But I think those are probably quite good cooked, as I have friends who've eaten grasshoppers and crickets cooked in other countries, like Thailand and Mexico.  I'm told they are sort of shrimp like that way.  I never had much access to a lot of grasshoppers, but if I ever am somewhere they swarm, I look forward to freezing some and frying them up.  Also cicadas.

I've eaten the beetles that plague Saint John's Wort, and turned them into tincture.  They taste similar to St. Johnnys.

The least appealing thing I've eaten was a caterpillar.  I forget what type.  It tasted fine, but the musculature of it's body was so chewy it was a little like eating grub-flavored gum.

I should have tried pill bugs (roly poly's, "potato" bugs - the little grey crustacean that rolls up like a tiny armadillo) and sow bugs.  I collected them for my birds, who ate them with absolute relish.  Never in my life did I think I'd live somewhere without pillbugs, or slugs for that matter...and then we moved to the hyper-arid desert... wow.  It has it's advantages, though.  Amazing bugs here, just spectacular creatures... like tarantula wasps.  And no fleas or ticks where we are.  Shocking.

 
Victor Johanson
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Oh, I forgot about the bee larvae--those are very good. Sweet, mild, and rich. Old research indicated ridiculously high Vitamin D levels, although those results are considered questionable by some today.
 
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A cheese from Sardinia, Casu Marsu is full of the larvae of a fly...but it's now illegal to sell it. I've made it accidentally here near Rome, by not turning a sheeps cheese often enough, moisture accumulating and softening the rind enough for the fly to lay her eggs.
My favorite is the mole cricket, a bit of a pest, has a lovely smokey taste, at least the deep fried ones with a puff of chili oil in Thailand do, where people eat lots of stuff. Least favorite so far is silk worms, too squishy inside...and bees are just too valuable.
 
pollinator
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I am going to be raising Black Soldier Fly Larvae, as well as Superworms both for food.  I will also have a bunch of earthworms, but this will not likely be a food source for myself.
 
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Entomophagy or the practice of consuming insects can provide a nutritious relief to many malnourished people in developing countries. Edible insects are part of numerous traditional diets found in over 113 countries, including those in Asia, Africa, and South America. Currently, there are 2 billion people consuming over 2000 recorded edible insects. Many of these worldwide insects contain amounts of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals comparable to commonly eaten livestock. With the popularity of crickets in both developing and developed countries and the nutrient density of locusts, these insects were of particular interest. Rice flour, made from a major food crop around the world, was used as an effective vehicle to deliver these insect ingredients. The use of inexpensive single-screw cold-forming extrusion technology, due to its capability of high production rate yet low capital and operating costs, was employed in making insect-fortified products. The feasibility of incorporating edible insect flours from cricket and locust in an extruded rice product has been demonstrated to be successful with acceptable shelf stability and sensory characteristics. Nutritionally, the insect rice products developed were energy dense (high-fat content) and as an excellent source of protein. They also contained considerable amounts of dietary fiber and iron. Sensory evaluations involving 120 untrained panelists–suggested cricket formulations were well accepted compared with locust formulations. There is a positive outlook on the overall acceptance of entomophagy even in developed countries. As a staple food providing 20% of the world’s dietary energy and consumed by over 1 billion people, rice is an ideal vehicle to deliver nutrients carried by edible insects. The incorporation of insect flours in processed foods such as extruded rice products can greatly promote the consumer acceptance by disguising the ‘yuck’ factor associated with intact insects.
 
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This is what I got on Wikipedia so I am not sure you're on the right track here,

Entomophagy (/ˌɛntəˈmɒfədʒi/, from Greek ἔντομον éntomon, "insect", and φᾰγεῖν phagein, "to eat") is the human use of insects as food. The eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults of certain insects have been eaten by humans from prehistoric times to the present day.[1]

So how is eating insects as food going to help out?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entomophagy
 
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Dennis, humans have been eating bugs as a source of protein for eons. Most of the world today uses insects for the majority of their protein.

Redhawk
 
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Well, not all people have eaten insects... the colder the climate, the less likely to find edible grubs. Eskimos have never eaten insects (not that many different types of bugs there) . But, if you really want to experience entomophagy, the tropics, S E Asia, Africa and Latin America, Australia are good choices. But also countries such as China are into that.
 
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Any recent updates from anyone on their thoughts about insect farming and eating on insects?
 
Dave Burton
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After hearing my Food and Culture professor talk about how much he enjoys eating insects, I really want tp try some of this stuff!

Like trying Thai street-cooking of insects



Or Mexican Insect food cooking



And the way they cook insects in Cambodia just looks yummy!

 
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2 billion people are already eating insects a part of a regular diet, along with celebrities. Restaurants are even serving edible insects now!

A big reason why so many people are flocking towards the idea of edible insects is due to their incredible nutritional profile as well as their sustainability. Insect farms are currently one of the few farms that can actually grow vertically. With current deforestation and climate change ( Amazon fires ) Many are looking towards alternative Protein sources - Insects just so happen to fill the need of nutrition as well as sustainability.

Unfortunately there are still many who experience the Yuk factor and just aren't ready for edible insects. Insect powder such as Cricket Powder/flour is very helpful in introducing insects to people. Many are more prone to trying edible insects in the form of powder in smoothies and baked goods and slowly working their way up to whole insects.

I have 2 interesting Blogs discussing nutritional and environmental benefits from eating insects.

1) https://chirpnation.co.uk/blogs/crickets/superfood
2) https://chirpnation.co.uk/blogs/crickets/deforestation

Have you heard about new Research which showed that Crickets have 5x the Antioxidant power of Oranges! Quite amazing hey. https://chirpnation.co.uk/blogs/crickets/crickets-are-the-new-go-to-antioxidant-superfood

A further study analysed crickets and gut health and found that eating crickets actually reduced inflammation and overall improved gut health : https://chirpnation.co.uk/blogs/crickets/ibs
Crickets can improve Gut Health
Edible Insects are really panning out to be an incredible High Protein Superfood!
 
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I ate corn earworms this week. Taste was bland, like they had been eating corn.... They were better raw than cooked, because they got tough when boiled.

It occurred to me later that boiled then dehydrated might be OK. I didn't think that frying would be appropriate, because of the possibility of exploding.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I didn't think that frying would be appropriate, because of the possibility of exploding.



That is just hilarious.
 
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Location: Rocky Ripple, IN
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forest garden foraging medical herbs
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I have eaten grasshoppers and grubs, both sautéed in a pan with oil or butter. They were fairly tasty. I preferred the grubs, which were slightly nutty. I had some doubts about the grubs, as two of my coworkers at the wilderness school I work at had just found them and decided to eat them without knowing for certain what they were. No one died, but probably best to know these things.

My biggest issue with eating them is that despite some searching, I have not found what the most humane way to end their lives is before consuming them. I believe we must respect the life that nourishes is, no matter how small. So what are folks thoughts on best practices for an ethical end? I was surprised to read that freezing, while common and seemingly gentle, is apparently one of the least ethical means.
 
No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. This time, do it with this tiny ad:
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