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Jon de Vos: Adventures in gastronomy

Jon de Vos / The Friday Report
Winter Park, CO Colorado

Bedbugs are making a comeback. Folks are increasingly at risk of bites and blisters from this noxious pest. So much so that there’s hue and cry to lift the ban on DDT, a controversial move, sure to cause much consternation in Congress if they can tear themselves away from counting the money in their freezers.

I have a better idea. Why don’t we just teach our kids to eat them? Kids are short, close down there by the bugs, their little eyes are like microscopes, and what’s so wrong with raising a generation of adventurous eaters? I consider myself an adventurous eater, once eating a chocolate-covered cricket. Well, I didn’t actually eat the cricket but I saw this You Tube about a guy who did. I was raised by non-cricket eating parents and I guess I’m just a traditionalist. When I see a robin wrestling with a worm, I’m not even slightly inclined to flop down and wrestle over it.

But that’s just me.



In China today, the 8-inch long Emperor scorpion, skewered and roasted, is a delicacy. In ancient Rome, slaves of the wealthy raised the larvae of stag beetles on a diet of flour and wine until they were 3 inches long. At dinner, they were seared and popped in the mouth like a ripe plum. Even John the Baptist survived 40 days on a diet of locusts.

Cambodians delight in fried tarantulas, dipped in garlic and salt. In South America, buckets of termites are gathered and killed off by boiling. Heat til crispy, discarding wings and legs that fall off. Add water, spices, chili and rice and boil on a slow fire until extra yummy.



“Well, why not?” says David Gracer, founder of Sunrise Land Shrimp. “It takes very little water to raise a pound of insects while it takes more than 2,600 gallons to raise a pound of beef.” He explains that warm-blooded vertebrates, like cows, consume many calories just keeping their body temperature even. Cold-blooded invertebrates are a lot more efficient at building body mass, doing so somehow without the aid of bellies like the rest of us. Ever seen a cockroach with love handles?

Speaking of a pound of bugs, science estimates that’s about the amount all of us eat during a lifetime of noshing on insects that are milled into our grains and hiding in our processed food. Even the Food and Drug Administration allows 30 insect fragments per half cup of peanut butter. Wormy apples are set aside for cider, thank you for the additional protein.

David George Gordon, author of The Compleat Cockroach, says eating protein-rich bugs is good for you. In his latest book, Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, he offers us 33 new and exciting ways to cook grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, and centipedes.

I was reading some tips on raising edible bugs for profit. One claimed that they’re easy to raise in an apartment without getting complaints. I suppose that’s after the infestation has caused everyone to move away.

Hunters will take to bugs quickly, for a number of reasons. First it’s not as messy to gut a sow bug in the bathtub as it is a sow. Secondly, a bag full of June bugs is a lot lighter than a moose carcass when you’re hiking back to the truck. And finally, a water beetle is far less dangerous than a water buffalo.

And every bit as nutritious.


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