Bug Appétit: Barriers to Entomophagy

Bug Appétit: Barriers to Entomophagy
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Consumer acceptance is the main barrier to the consumption of edible insects.

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The problem with edible insects is consumer acceptance. Entomophobia, for which scientists describe “the public’s irrational revulsion and fear of insects…noting that these attitudes are not helped at all helped by government regulations that refer to insect parts as filth, lumping them together with rodent droppings.”

Our irrational revulsion has even been called a type of social pollution. “Westerners should become more aware of the fact that their bias against insects as food has an adverse impact, resulting in a gradual reduction in the use of insects without replacement of lost nutrition.” Basically saying, hey, even this is better than getting them hooked on Spam and Twinkies.

Not to oversell them, though; edible insects are not without their problems. Your supper can bite back, and dyspepsia has been reported, which is basically like a kind of upset tummy. Numerous reports record intestinal upsets after people have eaten foods containing insects and mites.

In three experiments conducted on healthy subjects, ingestion of housefly larvae produced nausea in 83% of volunteers. Maggots? Live maggots? I think they’re burying the lead, here. How about the whopping 17% of people that didn’t get nauseated?

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to istolethetv, david.orban, and jntolva via flickr

The problem with edible insects is consumer acceptance. Entomophobia, for which scientists describe “the public’s irrational revulsion and fear of insects…noting that these attitudes are not helped at all helped by government regulations that refer to insect parts as filth, lumping them together with rodent droppings.”

Our irrational revulsion has even been called a type of social pollution. “Westerners should become more aware of the fact that their bias against insects as food has an adverse impact, resulting in a gradual reduction in the use of insects without replacement of lost nutrition.” Basically saying, hey, even this is better than getting them hooked on Spam and Twinkies.

Not to oversell them, though; edible insects are not without their problems. Your supper can bite back, and dyspepsia has been reported, which is basically like a kind of upset tummy. Numerous reports record intestinal upsets after people have eaten foods containing insects and mites.

In three experiments conducted on healthy subjects, ingestion of housefly larvae produced nausea in 83% of volunteers. Maggots? Live maggots? I think they’re burying the lead, here. How about the whopping 17% of people that didn’t get nauseated?

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to istolethetv, david.orban, and jntolva via flickr

Doctor's Note

Meat from wild animals may trigger less inflammation (see Modern Meat Not Ahead of the Game), and since bugs aren’t shot (see Filled Full of Lead), they may be Good Grub: The Healthiest Meat. Maggots may even be used to improve food safety (see Maggot Meat Spray, as I mentioned in my full-length 2012 presentation, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death). I’m afraid, however, I would fall into the 83%.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Adding FDA-Approved Viruses to Meat, and What Is the Healthiest Meat?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

47 responses to “Bug Appétit: Barriers to Entomophagy

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  1. Meat from wild animals may trigger less inflammation (see Modern Meat Not Ahead of the Game) and since bugs aren’t shot (see Filled Full of Lead) they may be The Healthiest Meat. Maggots may even be used to improve food safety (see Maggot Meat Spray, as I mentioned in my full-length 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death). I’m afraid, however, I would fall into the 83%.

    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  2. More problems with edible insects:

     

    “Some insects secrete
    toxins, produce toxic metabolites or sequester toxic chemicals from foodplants
    (Blum, 1978; Duffey, 1980; Wirtz, 1984). Defensive secretions that may be
    reactive, irritating or toxic include carb- oxylic acids, alcohols, aldehydes,
    alkaloids, ketones, esters, lactones, phenols, 1,4-quinones, hydrocarbons and
    steroids, among others. Phytochemicals sequestered by various insects include
    simple phenolics, flavin, tannins, terpenoids, polyacetylenes, alkaloids,
    cyanogens, glucosinolates and mimetic amino acids. Insects are also a source of
    injectant, ingestant, contactant and inhalant allergens (Wirtz, 1984; Gorham,
    1991 ), and some insects serve as vectors or passive intermediate hosts of
    vertebrate pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses or helminths (Gorham,
    1991). More attention should be directed toward assessing these risk factors in
    the edible insect groups.” 

     

    DeFoliart G.  Insects as Human Food.  Crop Protection (1992) 11: 395-399. 
    Accessed on the World Wide Web on September 18, 2012 at: http://www.food-insects.com/Insects%20as%20Human%20Food.htm

  3. I’ve always thought if I had the chance to eat insects properly prepared, I would.  I recall an article in National Geographic that grubs have a pleasant, nutty taste.

    Question: how about worms?  I recall a news story decades ago about a guy who advocated eating worms and who even made worm cookies for people to try.

  4. More problems with insects:

    “Some insects secrete toxins, produce toxic metabolites or sequester toxic chemicals from foodplants (Blum, 1978; Duffey, 1980; Wirtz, 1984). Defensive secretions that may be reactive, irritating or toxic include carb- oxylic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, alkaloids, ketones, esters, lactones, phenols, 1,4-quinones, hydrocarbons and steroids, among others. Phytochemicals sequestered by various insects include simple phenolics, flavin, tannins, terpenoids, polyacetylenes, alkaloids, cyanogens, glucosinolates and mimetic amino acids. Insects are also a source of injectant, ingestant, contactant and inhalant allergens (Wirtz, 1984; Gorham, 1991 ), and some insects serve as vectors or passive intermediate hosts of vertebrate pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses or helminths (Gorham, 1991). More attention should be directed toward assessing these risk factors in the edible insect groups.”

    DeFoliart G.  Insects as Human Food.  Crop Protection (1992) 11: 395-399.  Accessed on the World Wide Web on September 18, 2012 at: http://www.food-insects.com/Insects%20as%20Human%20Food.htm

  5. This is completely Evil!
    Leave insects alone! it’s enough that the world harms them all the time, and it’s enough that the world harms larger animals all the time!
    Stop killing other beings to satisfy your mad craving for the flesh!
    This is unethical, and you should be ashamed of yourselves!

    1. Pardon the late reply, but this is worth including. Noth, the point here is that humanity will soon have to rethink it’s food-needs, and insects represent the best choice. This is not about being nice or mean, it’s about survival. What have you been eating for years? Whatever it is, it has to be killed first. Same with bugs.

      Nope, there’s no reason to be ashamed here. Raising insects as food would make a lot more sense, at least in some ways, than continuing to rely only on beef/pork/chicken/fish/etc.

      1. We don’t kill anything to eat grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, leaves.   Grains, beans, and seeds all fall from plants that have naturally ended their life cycles. Nuts fall from trees and we harvest them without killing the tree.  Fruits can be picked from the tree or bush without killing the plant.  Leaves can be harvested without killing  the plant. 

        You can cut grass without killing the grass, it won’t scream and it might even make it healthier.  Try cutting an animal or insect in half and see if it continues to live or grows healthier. 

        Bugs have sentience, unlike plants.  You can’t cut a bug in half and watch it regenerate itself as with plants.  There is no ethical similarity between killing insects and eating plants. 

        Do you relish the thought of eating insects?  A natural insect eater would enjoy eating insects live, uncooked and without condiment.  If you feel even the slightest resistance to the idea, you are not by nature an eater of insects.

        Humans don’t require animal protein of any type.  We already can produce all the plant food we need to feed everyone adequately, provided we don’t waste it in raising livestock.  Feeding plants to animals then eating the animals is inefficient regardless of species used, because it is inevitable that the vast majority of food energy fed to the animal will go to support its life process and activity, not to increase its flesh. 

        Raising insects for food does not make economic, nutritional, gustatory, or ethical sense.  I hope we all can grow out of this false belief that we must enslave and eat animals to live well on this earth. 

        1. We can’t fall into the trap of thinking we are better than meat eaters just because we only eat plants. There is by-kill with modern agricultural practices. Animals are killed and displaced to clear land. Also, have you heard of a bug vacuum? They are used in organic and conventional methods of farming. Additionally there is a carbon footprint associated with the food we eat. The bananas from south america have to be shipped here, that contributes greenhouse gasses and drives the global climate change that is already displacing people and animals and is leading to species extinction.

          You are right that humans don’t need animal protein, but the fact remains that it is culturally ingrained in most people. The point is to get them moving in a positive direction. If they eat insects instead of meat, that will actually have a positive affect on the planet. That insects or animals are enslaved is just your opinion however, and while I agree with you, we can’t force that upon other people.

          Be the light…

        2. You are a product of our privileged modern society and have apparently never considered what it takes to survive in nature without the tools you would need to obtain more calories for energy if edible plants were in short supply. I take issue with your statement that a “natural” insect eater would not feel resistance to eating insects live…they don’t. I never saw a child want or try to rip the throat out of a bunny, kitty, or chipmunk to eat, but saw plenty of them eat worms and other assorted bugs with glee! It is cultural bias and nothing more, many cultures still supplement their diets with them, happily, as they are relatively easy to amass and cost free.

          As far as them tasting better cooked or with condiment, again, a learned behavior that applies to just about all our food! I have no burning desire to eat them myself, but I’m sure that if I was starving in the wild, my chances of survival would benefit from eating whatever I could get my gathering hands on, since my physiology has no natural adaptations for hunting (as even my pampered pussycat can effortlessly revert to by design), and my revulsion would rapidly dissipate! In fact, in light of our herbivorous physiology, our introduction to carnivory probably came from scavenging the carcasses of a true carnivore in desperation for sustenance. That some meatheads can actually attempt to class themselves in the same league with actual carnivores like cats totally amuses me and I would LOVE to watch them attempt it with their native physiology sans the “toys” they’d need to help them!

  6. More problems with insectivory.

    “Some insects secrete toxins, produce toxic metabolites or sequester toxic chemicals from foodplants (Blum, 1978; Duffey, 1980; Wirtz, 1984). Defensive secretions that may be reactive, irritating or toxic include carb- oxylic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, alkaloids, ketones, esters, lactones, phenols, 1,4-quinones, hydrocarbons and steroids, among others. Phytochemicals sequestered by various insects include simple phenolics, flavin, tannins, terpenoids, polyacetylenes, alkaloids, cyanogens, glucosinolates and mimetic amino acids. Insects are also a source of injectant, ingestant, contactant and inhalant allergens (Wirtz, 1984; Gorham, 1991 ), and some insects serve as vectors or passive intermediate hosts of vertebrate pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses or helminths (Gorham, 1991). More attention should be directed toward assessing these risk factors in the edible insect groups.”

    DeFoliart G.  Insects as Human Food.  Crop Protection (1992) 11: 395-399. 

  7. We have been told that meats are full of dead bacteria that leak into the bloodstream and cause inflammation and one regular MD states that dairy is full bacterial “pus”. If insects such as flies and cockroaches are disease carriers, albeit highly nutritious, what is their bacterial load?
    There is a parallel with crustaceans here, such as shrimp, that feed on decaying material. Do we need to gut them as some bother to do, or is it acceptable to eat them whole? Imagine gutting maggots. If cooking does not solve the bacterial problem with meat and dairy, why is it considered sufficient with shrimp and insects? Dead bacteria are the same in both cases. This seems an important, yet unresolved, issue as insects seem to be an excellent and efficient protein source.

  8. I am a new fan of these videos.  Thank you so much for producing them.

    I look forward to returning to subjects not about eating insects & maggots.

  9. What about the exoskeletons.  Before I switched to a plant-based diet… I would shell prawns, and crab, eating only the meat hidden within.  I would think eating bugs with exoskeletons would be a bit hard on the digestion process.

  10. I have a difficult time with the search function on this site. I’m trying to find the video that talks about the potassium contents of various foods, surprisingly, bananas not being even close to the top. Is there a trick to using the search?

    1. Here you go: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/, around 25:40.

      How did I find it? I clicked on “Browse All Topics” to see the topic cloud, clicked on “potassium,” and there are only two videos that show up in the results. I was pretty sure it was the more recent of the two. I hope that helps?

  11. For some it’s entomophobia or even “social pollution”, for me it’s keeping kosher. Insects are right up there with pork and shellfish as culinary no-nos for me.
    I’ll stick to tofu, thank you very much :)

    1. As it happens, the book of Leviticus specifies certain insects as kosher [and halal.] Therefore even if this might limit the varieties of insects one might be willing to consume, keeping a kosher diet *does not* necessarily preclude entomophagy.

      1.  True.
        But for the most part, to spare you all the halachic discussions about Ashkenazim, Temanim, tradition and locusts, we Ashkenazim don’t eat them because we’re not necessarily sure what the “chagavim” are these days.
        As for your everyday garden-variety bug, like the bruchid beetles that can infest grains, we certainly don’t eat those.

  12. Im hoping this vid is just a joke-of some kind. as I cant see why MG would be promoting bug meat consumption; well,he is funnier live and I think should stick to that format.

  13. Too cute. Thanks – I’ve always wondered about that cuz’ some people really believe it’s ‘the next frontere’ (after we kill off all the animals?) What some people won’t do for RealityTV!

    1. One of the links in the list above gives details historical accounts of etomophagic cultures, where one quickly realizes that they are simply omnivorous with a bit more variety than the distorted Euro-North American model. Or, stated more simply, the REST of the world eats a little bit of insects along with everything else, it is not an _all or none_ proposition. Nobody else makes a big deal about it. Only us.

      1. Not sure I would be so inclined, but it sure makes more sense in the grand scheme of things that our progenitors ate what was plentiful and easy to gather, than expending such intensive and maintained effort to hunt a large animal for food (calories) just to obtain the very same calories needed for their survival!

  14. Pretty much the rest of the world eats bugs to no ill effect, but I could see the US model making FrankenCrickets and creating a disaster of cinematic proportions. Of course the TV people want to “keep bugs weird”.

    I do realize that this is the wrong forum, but could someone re-direct me to a good, informative site on the subject of etomophagy? Since trying Cicadas last time we had an big hatch, I’m a bit excited about the next horde, as I no longer think of everything that wiggles and crawls as potential fish bait.

  15. The issue I take with this is that the first objection to Entomophagy should be a moral one.

    While the reason of most people might be repulsion at the idea of eating insects because how they would feel about it, for me, and clearly others, our strong objection is the effect it would have on the animal, yet more animal exploitation and killing.

    Is it not clearly the case that a healthily human diet is sufficed by plant, bacteria, and fungus alone?

    Consuming animals, insects, any living creature is absolutely unnecessary and indeed harmful to human health?

    Science without morality is terrifying and evil.

    I’ve been happy to recommend your to others, but this will change if you start advocating the mindless consumption of non-humans, when such consumption is unnecessary and potentially harmful to human health.

    1. This isn’t a “vegan” site, it’s a science based site, the Dr is reporting facts, but having said that, he is NOT recommending it just commenting, and clearly said he himself would definitely pass. He often gets bashed for “cherry picking” studies because all the positive studies are on plants and none on animals, so I am assuming this was his attempt to placate the critics? lol

    2. Jennifer,

      I appreciate your passion for animal welfare, but not every person can survive on plant life alone. When young, I felt much as you and practiced vegetarianism for 15+ years and veganism for 7. Big problem was, I felt terrible! I was tired ALL the time and was extremely anemic. Being a vegetarian almost killed me. I found out later I had celiac disease, all the wheat in the veg diets made me sicker. I don’t want to, but I have to eat meat at every meal or I will die.
      If I can reduce my global footprint by eating bugs, darned right I will and I will encourage others to do so also. If I have to eat meat to get my protein, I’d much rather eat mealworms or cockroaches than kill a cow, chicken, fish, or pig.

      I am happy for you that you can eat only vegetables, but please don’t judge all people’s bodies to be just like yours. We are all made differently and some do indeed need other diets to live a healthier life.

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