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Third World

Article by Deborah Churchman found in my son's Ranger Rick magazine from the National Wildlife Federation, December 1998 issue.

Offered by Pat.

They Eat What?
... dragonflies are delicious. She lives in Bali, an island in the Pacific Ocean. But why, you may ask, would anyone eat insects? Because the little flying buggers make a high-protein meal. And they're free for the catching! People in Bali go "fly fishing" with strips of palmwood. First they dip the strips in sticky sap. Next, they run through the rice fields, waving their sticky sticks. Dragonflies hit the sticks and get glued. Then the people fry the insects in coconut oil- and eat them like candy. Dragonflies don't look yummy to you? ...
This Cambodian woman is about to have a spider inside her. She's eating a fried tarantula - a popular treat in her Southeast Asian country. How'd you like to have that between your teeth?
What A Mouthful!
Indonesian children ... usually eat taro and yams, potato-like tubers. The tubers have lots of vitamins and carbohydrates but not much protein. So for a high protein snack, these kids hunt stinkbugs. For real. They look for the bugs along forest trails. There, big kids climb trees to catch them. The big kids then hand the bugs down to younger children. To cook their catch, the kids stuff the bugs into bags made of leaves. Then they toss the bags into a fire. How do the bugs taste? One American said, "They were better than some worms I've tried." People in Indonesia eat other creepy crawlies as well, including the grubs .... They say they're chewy and taste like bacon.
Good 'N' Gooshy
People in Botswana (a country in southern Africa) eat mopane worms for the same reason that people in the United States eat hamburger - to get lots of protein. But mopane worms have three times as much protein as beef. The worms are really caterpillars of one of the largest moths in the world. Here's a tip: Don't eat the caterpillars when they're young and little. They're yucky then. Wait until they've fattened up on the leaves of mopane trees. The next step is to squeeze the guts out of the caterpillars. ... The guts are filled with a yellow-green slimy mess that smells like ground-up leaves. Then the caterpillars are boiled in salt water ... and spread out to dry. Dried worms last for many months. The worms taste like beef bits with a woody flavor.
And Now For Dessert!
Got a sweet tooth? How would you like a mealworm lollipop? Or a chocolate-covered cricket? What's that you say - you'd rather not eat these? Well, how about a candied apple covered with mealworms? Doesn't look yummy? You can find these insect candies in the United States. Some candy companies here have figured out what people in many other countries already know - insects make great food. Many insects are good-tasting and high in protein. Honey ants, for example, are sweet treats. Fried grasshoppers and crickets taste something like fried shrimp. Fried mealworms taste like pretzels that were once alive. And leaf-footed bugs are fruity.

Insects are also easy to find and free for the taking. So they're good food for people who don't have much money. Does this mean you should eat every insect you can catch? Well, no- some of them taste really bad, and some can make you sick. But you may want to think again about what is and is not OK to eat. And if you see someone munching on an insect- try not to let it bug you.

Based on the book, Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio (A Material World Book, Ten Speed Press, Berkley, 1998)