Eating cootie pie

by Ken Carpenter

Most people I know, especially women, would deny that they gobble a full pound of bugs every year. They would be wrong. Almost every food we eat has a maximum permissible level of insect contamination, and we all eat them.

For instance, wheat flour has an average of more than 150 insect fragments per 100 grams. Yummy! Worm cake is tasty!

Think that is a wheat hull caught in your teeth? Check again, it might be a cricket wing.

Boy, that peanut butter sandwich I made isn’t sounding quite so good. Peanut butter is, by the way, allowed to have up to 30 bug parts per 100 grams. That means between the bread, the peanut butter and the larvae flavored strawberry jam, I’ll be enjoying all kinds of extra protein.

Studies have found evidence that humans considered insects to be an important source of protein from as far back as 30,000 B.C. More than 3000 ethnic groups have eaten over 1400 different bugs in one form or another, and those numbers are not dwindling.

Entomophagy can actually be divided into two categories: insects as nutrients and insects as condiments. Some are so tasty, they are used to enhance different succulent treats.

There are factions in the civilized world that think the farming of bugs for food could go far toward maximizing the use of land and water per pound of food produced. It takes 100 pounds of feed to make 10 pounds of beef, but that same 100 pounds would make 45 pounds of nice juicy cricket burger. The beef burger would be 18% protein and 18% fat, and the cricket would be 60% protein and 6% fat.

What’s not to like? Does anyone actually think a McCricket burger would taste that different from a Big Mac? Add the pickles, onion, lettuce, cheese and special sauce, and make sure the wings and legs are ground up nicely, and I doubt there would be much difference.

Of course, I eat gizzards, pig feet, ox tails, chicken feet, liver, heart, fermented cabbage, and would also sample a pig snout if prepared properly. So far I have not scarfed any mealworm tacos though. I suppose I would if it was preceded by six or seven Coronas, but I have to admit that the sight of fried worms would do little for my appetite.

If anyone cares, only 20% of a cricket is considered inedible. Compare that to 30% for pork (Yay for pork rinds!), 35% for chicken, 45% for beef and 65% for lamb.

I don’t think the hunting of bugs would be very productive. My property is loaded with grasshoppers, the chickens love pounding them, but I would not want to have to catch four pounds to prepare for a barbecue.

If my time is even worth two bucks an hour, I figure it would cost me about 100 bucks a pound to catch and grind up enough grasshoppers to grill hopper-burgers for a small dinner party.

Maybe bug meat will end up being the next trendy thing, and the savior of mankind, I don’t know. I figure I will eat my designated pound every year if I want to or not, and so will the rest of you, but we don’t have to like it.

Most of the rest of the world, much of it uncivilized, enjoys the buggers, and I have to hand it to them, you eat what you have to. If the bug-snackers in the U.S. have their way the rest of us will join in eventually.

Make mine chocolate coated please.