If you’re like me, you might have never heard of this word…entomophagy. And after reading all about it, I’m both fascinated and just a bit sick to my stomach. Let me tell you why.
Entomophagy is the practice of consuming insects…like eating them. Yes, that’s what you just read. The Greek language breaks the word down to entomon which is insect and phagein which means to eat. It is not as uncommon as you might think, and many cultures around the world plus the animal community enjoy a tasty insect entree.
First, let’s begin with animals who enjoy insects for dinner. The first animal that comes to mind is the anteater. Obviously, they consume ants but that’s not all. On average, a giant anteater can eat around 30,000 ants plus termites in a single day. Worms, bees, and other insects are other menu options for this animal. Since they have no teeth, their tongue and snout work together to scoop and suck up the insects at a fast pace of hundreds at a time. The praying mantis is another carnivorous fellow. Well known for a hearty appetite, the mantis is welcomed by gardeners as a useful source of pest control since they eat aphids, mosquitoes, and caterpillars. They also like to consume the Asian giant hornet, which you may know as the murder hornet. From bats and spiders to lizards and opossums, consuming insects is not at all uncommon in the animal community.
Even though entomophagy is not common in North America and Europe, other countries and cultures do so often. Perhaps it is the portrayal by the entertainment industry with shows such as “Fear Factor” or the creepy, crawly aspect of the insects themselves, but Western cultures are simply not into insect consumption. In Africa, fried caterpillars are garlic-seasoned delicacies. In many Mexican restaurants, patrons will find chinicuil worms and chapulines, which are spiced grasshoppers, on the menu. Cambodian cuisine includes tarantulas that have been deep-fried. From ants, bee larvae, beetles, caterpillars, cicadas, cockroaches, and crickets to dragonflies, grasshoppers, and mealworms, the list of edible insects is extensive. But the most popular insect for consumption is the beetle family. A whopping 31% of edible insects are beetles. High in protein, insects offer a nutritional value necessary to survival in parts of the world. In fact, insects have 9 to 35 grams of protein per 100 grams. That’s impressive.
So now for the rather surprising, or maybe disgusting depending on your perspective, part of the program: you’re eating insects every day, whether you know it or not. The Food and Drug Administration allows a certain percentage of insect ‘parts’ in our food. Examples of this include 30 parts pe 100 grams of peanut butter and 450 parts per 16 ounces of spaghetti. Yep, I know. Still, even though my chocolate could potentially have insect parts, I’m not giving up my dark chocolate with raspberry. I suppose the upside is that I’m getting more protein than I thought, so there’s that. Last weird factoid of the day, the original Heinz ketchup bottle was given a white label in order to hide inset parts that floated to the top after processing.
Entomophagy: the consumption of insects. You heard it here! Enjoy your day and give us a call if you prefer to live pest free!
Canton Termite and Pest Control