Fried Insects on a stick,Entomophagy

What is Entomophagy?

Entomophagy is the human use of insects as food. So an Entomophagist simply eats insects/invertebrates as food.

Why eat insects.

This is a question I get asked a LOT, but it has a very simple answer.

  1. It is good for the environment, to raise invertebrates for food uses far less water and food then conventional protein sources such as beef or poultry.
  2. I can raise the animal in my house, I feed them food scraps helping to recycle more.
  3. They taste really nice.

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More the 80% of nations eat invertebrates, and depending on your interpretation of the word people can include other invertebrates in the definition. This can lead to some people including common foods such as shrimp and lobster to this list.

I grew up traveling around South East Asia, so the taboo that eating insects carries in the West was never something that I was exposed to. In fact it was common to sit down to crickets, spiders, ants and a mirriad of other invertebrates as snacks or for dinner. So when I moved back to the UK in 2008 I was shocked to find that entomophagy still carried a stigma and that little to no one had brought the practice with them. With that in mind I still carried on working with and eating invertebrates in my home, however the lack of information about entomophagy and recipes has lead me to start this blog.

So lets take on that stigma and change the world one meal at a time.

Time Away

AS you might of noticed there has been a rather large gap between today and my last post. In this time I have been working,well for one at my job, and with another website that I help to run. In this time it has allowed me to think about what I want to put forward on this website.

Originally I wanted this to be the first stop for entomophagist who wanted to learn about the lifestyle.  But now I just want it to showcase who I am and what I know, I am turning away from the polished feel and instead going to use this platform to be an honest look at my life, my failings, faults, triumphs and lifestyle. I am hoping by not having to worry about the content and creation of polished posts that I am able to write shorter smaller articles that will better reflect who I am.

And if you would like to see some of my more polished work, check out my other website; https://www.ifloveconservation.com/

I write a lot of the articles, mostly about bugs if I can get away with it.

Hopefully you will appreciate my honesty in my work going forward and you will stick around to see what will come of it.

Carbon neutral dinner

Surprisingly, the most eco-friendly source of meaty protein I have encountered is also the lowest tech – mussels.

mulles

Les excellentes moules-frites de l’Assiette du marché, rue de la Monnaie à Lille. by Frédérique Voisin-Demery.

Most forms of animal proteins are known for not being great for the environment, taking up water, energy and farmed food to grow.

So having a carbon neutral meal can be quite a challenge, especially if you choose to have meat on your plate.

Mussels are commonly grown on lengths of rope that are hung just beneath the surface of the water. These animals take very little energy to farm, and even have the added bonus of capturing carbon dioxide in their shells.

 

The result of this lowered carbon footprint is 20 times lower than chicken, and less than 50 times lower than beef. So by eating a bowl of mussels once a week you can cut down on your carbon footprint. In future years these numbers may change, but as of right now these animals are one of the most energy-efficient ways of producing meat.

mussels

Moules frites à la belge. Miss Ningyou

So how to you cook some Moules Frites;

I am lazy so I use oven chips, or if you are so intended you can make your own with really anything that you want. Although I must say that chunky chips so I can dip them in the sauce.

If you are even more strapped for time many super markets offer pre-made mussels in wine or garlic sauce that can be quite yummy, just make sure to get some that are labeled as sustainable.

If you have a local fishmonger they will know where they were harvested and how they were grown.

Below is a simple recipe for moules mariniere;

Ingredients;

  • 1kg/2lb 3oz fresh live mussels
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 150ml/5¼fl oz white wine
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 150ml/5¼fl oz double cream (or Dairy alternative)
  • small bunch flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • crusty bread, to serve (tiger bread being a personal favorite)

Method

  1. Clean the mussels by thoroughly scrubbing them under plenty of running water, pulling away the ‘beards’ they have at the lips of the shells. Discard any broken mussels along with the ‘beards’, and any mussels that don’t close tightly when you tap them.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until softened, but not coloured.

  3. Add the wine and turn up to a high heat. As the wine starts to boil, add the cleaned mussels and thyme to the pan. Turn the heat down to low.

  4. Put the lid on the pan and allow the mussels to steam. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, lifting the lid from time to time to check – you will know they are cooked when the shells have opened. Discard any mussels that remain closed.

  5. Add the double cream and cook for a another minute.

  6. Scatter with the chopped parsley and serve straightaway with crusty bread.

  7. Sit and enjoy

Let me know if you make this and if you enjoy it.

 

 

So what can I eat?

With there being billions of different species of invertebrates with hundreds of different ways to defend themselves from becoming lunch for others.

So what the hell can I eat as an entomophagist.

Here are 8 groups of animals that are commonly eaten;

1. Beetles

These are possibly the most commonly eaten animals. the most commonly eaten ones are the larvea of darkling beetles, known as mealworms. These animals can be eaten in all life forms, from larva to beetle.

other verities of beetles eaten can range from long-horned, June/may bugs, dung and rhinoceros beetles. It is noted that these animals can easier obtained and eaten where they are naturally found. Importing of some of these animals can be pricey, and obtainable only in set times of the year.

It needs to be noted that these animals have long life forms and can live for a long time so they must be sourced sustainable from a responsible trader.

2. Bees and Wasps

There is more to bees than honey. Indigenous people from Africa, Asian, South America, Mexico and Australia have all been recorded eating both bees and wasps. Stingless bees are the most commonly eaten, these animals can be eaten at all stages, egg, larval, pupa and adult. They are commonly noted to have a nutty flavor, they taste like peanuts/ almonds, wasps are noted to have a more pine nut flavor.

3. Grasshoppers, Crickets, and Locusts

A firm favorite of many entomophagists. these animals are a near second to being the most consumed. There are a lot of different kinds, and they are excellent protein sources. These animals are normally used as a poster food for entomophagy and can commonly be seen in most entomophagic restaurants. Locusts are a common food source as they can become swarms that have the ability to devastate countries food supplies. In these countries that are struggling with food security these swarms of animals can be a lifeline.

fried locusts.jpg

fried crickets on a market in Cambodia. photo by Thomas Schoch

4. Butterflies and Moths

These flying insects are high in both protein and iron . The best known example of these insects are the agave worms that are found in the bottom of Mescal, a Mexican liquor. These agave worms are found between the leaves of agave plants. These butterflies are highly sort after for both food, and for the drinks, they are commonly cultivated to protect them from over harvesting.

5. Ants

These may be small but they are known to be eaten throughout the world. With many being harvested during their breeding season, when the males and females fly

ants

Deep fried ants photo by Stephanie Sadler

 

 

6. Water Boatmen and Backswimmers

These animals are commonly seen on social media. These beetles lay eggs in the stems of plants, these eggs can be dried and used to make Mexican caviar, it tastes like shrimp. They can also be eaten fresh for a seafood flavour.

7. Flies and Mosquitoes

Not exacally the most popular animals to be eaten. This family also contains termites, commonly eaten. Depending on where these animals are raised, in water or even on cheese (some flies are developed on cheeses) they have the ability to take on the flavor of their surroundings.

8. Stinkbugs

These might seem like a odd choice to eat given their name but these insects apparently add an apple like flavour. They are also valuable source of iodine.

Share your insect-eating stories in the comments.