Entomophagy is the proper name for...well, bug eating. 80% of the world’s population knowingly eats bugs and 100% of the world’s population unknowingly eats bugs. For example in the US, the FDA realizes that in the food manufacturing industry a certain amount of critters are going to end up canned or packaged. They even set regulations for these amounts, for a package of frozen broccoli there must be no more than 500 aphids and a can of mushrooms must have fewer than 24 mites. Even the bug infested apples are sent for cider making.
And as the World Health Organization says, in a world of food shortages perhaps we should think of eating less obvious foods. Anything up to 2,000 insects species are estimated to be eaten around the world, often as delicacies. So are we missing out? As we now know, we are not as bug deprived as we thought we were--perhaps we could be a little less squeamish. And is there anything out there that actually tastes nice?
How about bee larvae? They are said to taste of milky honey and be as soft as marshmallows. Well that sounds quite pleasant really, until you realize that they are squirming about alive when you deposit them into your mouth. Looking like fat meal worms or maggots is always going to be a slightly off-putting trait to us faint hearted 20% non-entomophagists.
Bee larvae are eaten in Japan, China and Vietnam, both live and cooked. They can be deep fried and served with spices which turn them nutty, prepared into a pate or stored in a sweetened soy sauce. The Nepalese produce a liqueur from bee larvae and a dish named bakuti. Zimbabweans eat the larvae while out collecting honey as a special treat. There are even cave paintings in Altamira, Northern Spain estimated from between 9,000 and 30,000 BC depicting the gathering of bee nests.
They are high in protein, carbohydrates and fat, and full of vitamins B and C and other amino acids and minerals. Chinese bee keepers, who regularly nibble on bee larvae while tending their hives, are noted for their strength and vitality. Beijing Medical University carried out research claiming that bee larvae can maintain and improve mental function as well as strengthen your immune system. A whole host of other conditions are declared to be perked up by eating these larvae, including hair loss and wrinkles. Angelina Jolie is said to be a big fan and doesn’t she look good. On second thoughts, then – follow that bee!