I was introduced to a company called Chapul on a popular television show. They were trying to get financial backing for a new type of energy bar that they claim offers more iron than spinach, more protein than beef, and as much B12 as salmon through entomophagy... Which means eating bugs. For real. The pitchmen for the company touted the health benefits of the cricket flour they use for their bars, along with the sustainability of insect harvesting, and the fact that North America and Europe are basically the only places on the globe where eating bugs is not routine. I was unconvinced. And then I saw this headline, from the NY Daily News: “California hiker survives on bugs and snow for 6 days after breaking leg on mountain” Apparently Gregg Hein was solo hiking (moral of the story: never hike alone, unless bugs are your cup of tea) when a falling boulder broke his leg and stranded him on the side of a mountain. Miles from anyone, with no way to call for help, and two days away from his scheduled return, Hein waited it out the only way he knew how. Survival nuts like Bear Grylls have been telling us for ages that it can be done (watch here as he eats an enormous wood grub!), but how many of us would voluntarily choke down a creepy-crawly, in or out of a survival situation? Lots of us, it turns out. Over the last couple of years, such credible outlets as The New Yorker, The National Journal, and slate.com have all published articles on the benefits of entomophagy. Slate even offers this handy nutritional chart, comparing chicken, beef, and fish to worms, flies, and cockroaches.
A bizarrely compelling How Stuff Works article, titled “How Entomophagy Works,” cautions us against scrounging for snacks in our backyard (pesticides are a problem in residential areas), but does offer some helpful guidelines for bug eating in survival situations. What do you think? Are you up for adding dehydrated worms or cricket meal to your food storage? Could you eat something with lots of legs if your life depended on it?