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The Official Entomophagy Thread! (Eating Bugs)

 
Scott Farmer
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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!
 
Tyler Ludens
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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.

 
Rick Roman
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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.
 
Jason Matthew
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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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Location: Nevada County, CA
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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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Location: Nevada County, CA
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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/
 
wayne stephen
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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 !
 
Abe Connally
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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).
 
Chris Kott
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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
 
Daniel Calder
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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
 
Bill Bianchi
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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/
 
Alex Veidel
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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.
 
B.L. Liebig
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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.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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The other eat the bugs thread. pdf book listed there.
http://www.permies.com/t/44889/bugs/Entomophagy-section-eat-bugs
 
B.L. Liebig
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Thanks!!! Anything I can carry with my phone is fine.
 
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