Go ahead honey, be a good girl and eat your bugs. ”
This something you could be telling your child some day and if you do, you’d not be alone. Over 2 billion people in the world supplement their diets with … you guessed it,.. bugs!
I tried my first bug in Pai, Thailand. I was strolling through the crowded Sunday Walking Streets, a weekend night street fair, where you can buy anything from funky Thai craftwork art, cute street art done by young local artists, Thai souvenirs, street food and more. It’s an amusement park for shoppers. I came upon a bug vendor displaying all her bugs like ornaments you might want to buy. She sold them by the bag, but knowing she wasn’t really going to gain anything more than curiosity from me, she gave me two to try for free. Squeamishly, I dove right in.
The bamboo worm was crunchy, oily, with a subtle but sweet aftertaste that I wasn’t a fan of. It was hard to discern any flavor and the aftertaste wasn’t bad or anything; I don’t like things with a sweet aftertaste. Meanwhile the cricket … well, if you watched the video, you’ll know.
Does eating an insect taste bad?
Deep fried, the insects don’t taste bad. In fact, their taste is often so subtle that the oil or flavorings the vendor uses is what you’ll really taste. I think it’s mostly a visual thing and the fact, we haven’t been raised with certain beliefs of what food is.
Where will you find bug sellers in Thailand or Southeast Asia?
If you’ve been to the Southeast Asia, you’ll find insect snacks commonly sold in most countries there. Often sold at night markets or on streets, insects have become a healthy snack for Southeast Asians. It’s also been a solution for starvation and poverty. Just ask Cambodia, whose love for deep fried tarantulas stemmed from Khmer Rouge times, when people ate insects to stay alive.
Bug eating originates from rural populations and villages, where there is little money or livestock. Rural populations can be the biggest fans, so you might find bug vendors selling them at food and gas rest stops also.
In populated places like Bangkok, where urban city life blends with elements of traditional and rural Thai culture, bug vendor carts are occasionally found at night fairs or on streets to pull in Thai customers with a little more rural gastronomical fix.
Watch my video for ideas of where you’ll find them in Thailand.
Did you know the United Nations advocates bug consumption?
A report released by the United Nations, “Edible Insects: Food prospects for Food and Feed Security“, takes a direct stance on the topic and urges all to get over their disgust with them and to consume more insects in their diet. I’m not kidding.
With obesity on the rise in Western society and greenhouse gases from livestock posing an added threat to the environment, the concept is both, a practical and economical solution to rising problems. The question is, can Westerners ever drop their fear of consuming insects?
Why should you eat bugs and insects?
- It may come as a surprise, but insects are high sources of fiber, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium,phosphorus and selenium and are said to be a healthier alternative to the standard diet of pork, beef and chicken (read more here).
- They’re low producers of greenhouse gases, which helps keep the carbon footprint down. Therefore, raising them as food is not harmful to the environment.
- They cost less to farm and raise. Duh. Breeding insects has a low cost overhead as they multiply quickly, don’t cost in space, equipment nor do farmers have to dole out thousands to buy them food.
Tips for eating bugs
- Keep an open mind
- The worst fear you’ll experience is all in your eyes. Close your eyes and think of it as “chips”. Honestly, that’s sorta what it tastes like.