Eating bugs: Part 3 - Catch and eat them yourself

Do you know there is an easy food that you can catch and eat without any special equipment? It is bugs!

Youth eating insects by Nicole Ferguson
Youth eating insects by Nicole Ferguson

Do you know there is an easy food that you can catch and eat without any special equipment? It is bugs! It be even be used as a survival strategy, according to Backpacker magazine. While true bugs are only insects in the order Hemiptera, in this Michigan State University Extension article, the word “bug” is used as a generic term for insects and other invertebrates.

Finding, catching and cooking bugs is easy. Make sure the location in which you are collecting bugs is free from pesticide use. You don’t need special equipment to catch bugs. You can use your hands or nets. The insects can be collected in a repurposed plastic jar.

Unless you are working with an experienced bug-eater, limit the number of bugs you are eating to those you can easily identify.  Grasshoppers, crickets and isopods (also called sowbugs, pillbugs, or rollie-pollies) are the creatures you should stick .

Put the bugs in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before cooking them. This serves two purposes; it makes them easier to handle when you move them and also prevents them from jumping out of the pan immediately. 

When I cook bugs, I sauté them in a pan with a little bit of oil and lots of garlic. If available, I will put some herbs in with them, like basil or chives. Stir the bugs in the pan for about 10 minutes on medium heat. You want to cook them completely to destroy any pathogens or parasites that might be in the bugs. It is difficult to get an accurate internal temperature thermometer reading on an insect, because they are so small. Because of this, you should be extra sure they are thoroughly cooked. On some bugs, you will see a color change. After cooking, sprinkle the insects with some salt, and they are ready to eat.

If you are allergic to shrimp or other crustaceans you should avoid eating bugs. Interestingly, if you are allergic to mushrooms, you should also avoid eating bugs, because the chitin, a chemical in their exoskeleton, is similar to the chitin found in the cell walls of mushrooms.

Be sure to also check out the other two articles in this series, Eating bugs: Part 1 – You already have and Eating bugs Part 2: Eating bugs arounds the world.

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