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Many foods we eat have insects or insect parts in them, that we don't see. The Department of Health and Human Services has set a standard called the Food Defect Action Levels, which (to quote a publication) "are set on the basis of no hazard to health... These levels are set because it is not possible, and never has been possible, to grow in open fields, harvest and process crops that are totally free of natural defects."

Are Bugs A Part of Your Diet?
Product Action Level
Apple butter 5 insects per 100g
Berries 4 larvae per 500g OR 10 whole insects per 500g
Ground paprika 75 insect fragments per 25g
Chocolate 80 microscopic insect fragments per 100g
Canned sweet corn 2 3mm-length larvae, cast skins or fragments
Cornmeal 1 insect per 50g
Canned mushrooms 20 maggots per 100g
Peanut butter 60 fragments per 100g (136 per lb)
Tomato paste, pizza, and other sauces 30 eggs per 100g OR 2 maggots per 100g
Wheat flour 75 insect fragments per 50g
Source: The Food Defect Action Levels: Current Levels for Natural or Unavoidable Defects for Human Use that Present No Health Hazard. Department of Health & Human Services 1989.

September is the best month to collect the big, juicy insects which have been growing throughout the summer. Gathering these bugs can be a great outdoor experience for the whole family; and it is FREE  What is it about North American culture that keeps us from using one of our most abundant and readily available food sources, insects? We could learn a lot from our international neighbors. Many cultures around the globe have evolved to use insects in their diets. There was probably some trial and error involved because not all insects are edible. In fact, some insects are poisonous. But there are lots of insects that are safely eaten by people around the world.
Insects, like lobster, are best if cooked while alive or fresh frozen.
In contrast to beef, lamb, and poultry, postmortem changes rapidly render insects unpalatable. To facilitate meal planning, many species of insects may be kept alive for several days in the refrigerator. In fact, refrigeration before cooking is advised for the more active forms because it slows down their movements and facilitates handling.
Mealworms and crickets are easy to obtain from bait and tackle shops, or from distributors. If mealworms came packed in newspaper, they need to be changed to bran meal or corn meal or starved for 24 hours, to purge their guts. To separate mealworms from any attached food, waste material, or other debris, place a handful of them in a colander and gently toss. Remove any dead worms, and wash the remaining live insects under cool water. Place the worms on paper towels and pat dry. The mealworms are ready to be cooked or frozen for later use. Crickets should be placed in a refrigerator before attempting to wash them, to slow them down. If, before they are completely washed, they become very active, put them back in the refrigerator. You may want to remove the legs, wings, and ovipositor of crickets after dry roasting them.
100 grams of cricket contains: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, and 3.10 mg. of niacin. Compare this with ground beef, which, although it contains more protein (23.5 g.), also has 288.2 calories and a whopping 21.2 grams of fat!
The only real problem you may run into while utilizing insect protein is the lack of social acceptance. That is why sensible insect eaters must make it their duty to educate the public about the value of insect protein. You may encounter widespread disbelief, "You're kidding me. You don't eat insects!", revulsion "Yuck! You eat insects!?! ", and refusal "You will not ever get me to eat insects." Press on! Remember, insects are the food of the future, and you are paving the way for future generations.
The advantages of Entomophagy (insect eating) are:

  • Some insects are edible. In fact, most insects are edible, but there are a few species that are especially palatable, nutritious, and easily obtainable.
  • Many species of insects are lower in fat, higher in protein, and have a better feed to meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken.
  • Insects are tasty. Really! Even if you are too squeamish to have them as a main dish, you can make insect flour and add it to bread and other dishes for an added protein boost.
  • Insects are easy to raise. There is no manure forking. No hay bale lifting. No veterinary bills. You can raise them in an apartment without getting complaints.
  • Insects are beautiful. I think that all insects are beautiful, but most people I know will marvel at the iridescence of a butterfly, but shudder at the striping of a mealworm.
  • Most people do not mind butchering insects. The butchery of insects is very simple compared with that of cattle or poultry, and nowhere near as gory.
  • Raising insects is environmentally friendly. They require minimal space per pound of protein produced, have a better feed to meat ratio than any other animal you can raise, and are very low on the food chain. They are healthy, tasty, and have been utilized for the entire history of mankind (after all, it is easier to catch a grub than a mammoth).
  • Also, as far as I know, no animal rights activists object to the eating of insects. You don't need to destroy any wildlife habitat to eat insects, and you can incorporate insects and earthworms into a recycling program......vegetable waste in, yummy insect protein out.


Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbohydrate Calcium (mg) Iron (mg)
Giant Water Beetle 19.8 8.3 2.1 43.5 13.6
Red Ant 13.9 3.5 2.9 47.8 5.7
Silk Worm Pupae 9.6 5.6 2.3 41.7 1.8
Dung Beetle 17.2 4.3 .2 30.9 7.7
Cricket 12.9 5.5 5.1 75.8 9.5
Small Grasshopper 14.3 3.3 2.2 27.5 3.0
Large Grasshopper 20.6 6.1 3.9 35.2 5.0
June Beetle 13.4 1.4 2.9 22.6 6.0
Caterpillar 6.7 N/A N/A N/A 13.1
Termite 14.2 N/A N/A N/A 35.5
Weevil 6.7 N/A N/A N/A 13.1
Beef (Lean Ground) 23.5 21.2 N/A N/A 3.5
Fish (Broiled Cod) 28.5 N/A N/A N/A 1.0

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