One of the main principles as an NTP is a profound respect for the teachings of the nutritional pioneers, like Weston A Price. One of Dr. Price’s greatest disappointments was that he could not find a truly healthy vegan culture. You guessed it, even supposedly vegan tribes ate meat in the form of insects: olagues were bounties to be preserved for harder times. Butterflies. Locusts. You name it; they ate it.
It may come as a surprise that 80% of the earth eats insects, so even if we’re hesitant in the western world lots still do, and in fact, a lot of us are eating insects unawares in the form of food dyes and processed foods. But there’s a recent trend toward eating more insects, even farming them to meet the needs of an increasingly interested cuisine. If we look at it, first in the form of organic agriculture, more recently in the form of a Paleo Diet lifestyle, our return and need for nutrient density seems to lend itself inevitably to our most Paleo effort yet: insect harvesting, farming, processing and, of course, dining.
We all know that we are what we eat. Perhaps you’ve also come to the realization that we are what we eat eats: the grass from the good soil that the cows eat determines exactly what we eat. But insects are the reason we do both those things. They remove dung, control pests and pollinate crops: in fact a third of all our fruits are the results of insects taking care of the reproduction cycle. They’re food for many animals: insects are often the very beginnings of every food chain: small animals (even large ones) eat insects. And at the end of the food chain we’re eating them too.
You probably realize that you eat insects occasionally, especially if you chose organic produce and expect the occasional grub here or there. It’s more ‘natural’ so we expect them. Red food dyes are made from insects: so think crab-sticks and Campari. But did you know that tomato soup, peanut butter, chocolate and noodles legally contain insects? In fact many processed foods you’re eating contain insects. The U. S. Department of Agriculture has increased the amount of insect parts allowed in food. It’s probably processed food’s most nutrient rich ingredient and you could even go so far as saying that processed foods contain a lot more protein than you’d realize!
Ok so that’s by accident but lots of people do eat insects on purpose. Traditional tribes have done so for eons. More contemporarily, Chinese menus feature a smorgasbord of them. In Australia you can have mealy worms and crickets at my favorite restaurant, Billy Kwong in Sydney.
But do insects produce meat of a good quality? In terms of fat or vitamins they’re very good, comparable to anything we eat at the moment. So why wouldn’t you eat insects? It’s just a matter of mindset. We’re just not used to it. But that perception is changing. Is paleo and organic agriculture somewhat to ‘blame’? Is eating insects, like foraging for weeds, both naturally growing in their own life cycles against most odds and thus giving us those phenomenal resistive benefits, our most paleo contribution yet?
Would you eat insects? What if it was dipped in chocolate? I think I would. What about as an alternative flour? Well I’m gluten free and like others I think my almond and coconut flour intake is increasing my omega 6 and saturated fats; I’d surely give them a go. A new source and choice wouldn’t go. And I’d definitely try them coconut oil deep-fried where the crunchiness that seems a bit of a barrier might be more in your face. I love the crickets this way at Billy Kwong’s in stir-fry!