Some bugs safe to eat?

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  • #1
Ouabache
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I just noticed some small bugs in a jar of rice (thai - jasmine rice). I am guessing some viable weevil eggs may have come with my original sack of rice. Since we have a worldwide readership, what are your thoughts on consuming grain with bugs in it?

Let me kick it off.. In western cultures (such as USA), we have an aversion to eating insects (even though everyone who has eaten fresh salad is consuming bugs too tiny to see). I have seen more than one video documentary, of people counting the bugs in their grain and rationing them as an added source of protein. Hmm :uhh:
Utah State extension service has this to http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/FN-250.pdf [Broken] bugs that are consumed around the world.
 
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  • #2
radou
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The thing that immediately crossed my mind after reading the title of this topic is this video I saw recently, it's about roasted tarantulas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQjd3A5W-U4"

Well, it's all a matter of cultural difference, that's all. Although I find it grossly disgusting, but nevermind.
 
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  • #3
Math Is Hard
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Come visit me in L.A. I'll take you to http://www.typhoon-restaurant.com/ldmenu.html" [Broken] for some waterbugs and crickets!:approve:
 
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  • #5
radou
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Come visit me in L.A. I'll take you to http://www.typhoon-restaurant.com/ldmenu.html" [Broken] for some waterbugs and crickets!:approve:

MIH, are you saying what I think you're saying? :tongue:
 
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  • #6
Math Is Hard
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MIH, are you saying what I think you're saying? :tongue:

um.. :uhh: ..probably?
 
  • #7
radou
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um.. :uhh: ..probably?

Well, I assume you tried one of those crickets. Crunchy? :biggrin:
 
  • #8
Math Is Hard
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Well, I assume you tried one of those crickets. Crunchy? :biggrin:

you bet! Just one piece of advice - bring floss if you go there on a date. There's nothing quite as unnattractive as a cricket leg hangin' out of your teeth.
 
  • #9
radou
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you bet! Just one piece of advice - bring floss if you go there on a date. There's nothing quite as unnattractive as a cricket leg hangin' out of your teeth.

Really? You had a guy with that situation sitting opposite to you? If so, that's definitely a story for grandchildren to hear. :wink:
 
  • #10
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In Thailand I had a bag full of fried crickets, cockroaches and other bugs. And I'm still alive.

In fact, it was very tasty.
 
  • #11
turbo
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Most bugs are safe to eat. They are an inevitable part of our food supply. It is far more risky to eat plants that have been dosed with chemicals that are designed to kill all the bugs. Catch a clue, people!!!!!!!!!!
 
  • #12
russ_watters
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To be more specific, there are specific FDA limits to how many bugs can be in your food. And the number is not 0.

Yeah, this should be pretty obvious.
 
  • #13
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what is the FDA limits...

btw if it isn't zero isnt it kind of implying that it is fine for companies to have bugs in their food..call me old-fashioned..but i dont like the idea of eating bugs..
 
  • #14
Evo
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what is the FDA limits...

btw if it isn't zero isnt it kind of implying that it is fine for companies to have bugs in their food..call me old-fashioned..but i dont like the idea of eating bugs..
It's not just insects, they have limits to the amount of rodent droppings, urine, fur, etc... which are considered acceptable.
 
  • #15
Ouabache
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I see you are having a good time with this thread. :smile:

radou, I'll have to watch that "roasted tarantula" flick, next time I'm on a fast net connection. It sounds like a keeper. MIH, the Typhoon looks like cutting edge cuisine; offering up bugs and amphibians to the well developed palette. Evo, I believe I've seen those lollipops featured, on the foodtv channel. If you walked down the street licking one of those, you may raise a few eyebrows. AndreJ you're a brave soul, tucking in on those crunchy bugs. Turbo-1 Yeah, what really gets me is that pesticides we've banned in the U.S. are still sold and exported to countries from whom we purchase produce. http://www.american.edu/TED/mexpest.htm [Broken] :yuck:

Actually I am surprised no one has mentioned the worms (agave snout weevil) found in quality bottles of Mezcal. I hear they are a delicacy in Mexico.

Well back to my example. Imagine, if you will, you've just discovered these little rice weevils crawling around in your sack of high quality grain. What to do, to cook and eat or not? You might ponder, if I soak them, maybe the bugs will float. Then I could flush them out and cook the remaining bug free grain. Yea!! :tongue2:

Well lets take a closer look (ref, Univ Kentucky). The adults chew a hole into the grain, lay their eggs. The immature weevil grows through several larval stages and finally pupate to an adult and chew their way out of the kernel. (http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/bimg204.html [Broken]). These weevils are not too fussy and will feast on many grains: wheat, maize, oats, barley, sorghum in addition to rice.

So in addition to seeing the adults walking around on top of your grain, now you know there are lots more growing inside the kernels too. Will those float too? Maybe, Hmmmm.... :rolleyes:
 
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  • #16
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If the allowable quantities of...er...contaminants, was in fact zero, no mass-produced food would ever get to the retailers and we'd probably all starve.

Just don't think about it.
 
  • #17
Evo
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Well back to my example. Imagine, if you will, you've just discovered these little rice weevils crawling around in your sack of high quality grain. What to do, to cook and eat or not? You might ponder, if I soak them, maybe the bugs will float. Then I could flush them out and cook the remaining bug free grain. Yea!! :tongue2:
Personally, I prefer not to eat grain that some bug has been pooping in, call me picky.

I had some turnips once that had root maggots. I didn't notice until they were in the pan of water and they started wriggling out. :yuck: Needless to say, they quickly went into the trash.
 
  • #18
Monique
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Here is the list of allowable defects in foods:
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/dalbook.html [Broken]

One random pick out of the list:

CINNAMON, GROUND
Average of 400 or more insect fragments per 50 gram
Average of 11 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams

Now that we are on the topic of having insects in your food, the same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. All of a sudden my house became infected with a tiny bug (1-2 mm in size), it was wandering around everywhere from underneath the bedsheet to the wall.

I didn't know what the source was, until a week or so later my eye fell onto an opened bag of dried lentils that has been lying in the cupboard for half a year untouched. It was completely filled with those bugs and they had moved to the other bags of dried beans etc.

I threw everything out, the bugs were completely gone after that. Funny enough, my boyfriend wanted to keep the bags of lentils/beans, while I was completely creeped out by them. If I had known they were unharmful I'd probably have washed the beans and eaten them afterwards, but keeping the bags wasn't really an option since those bugs were taking over the house.

Here is a picture I took, anyone recognize it?
http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/7330/bugku6.jpg [Broken]


*edit* I searched google for weevil pictures, and it does show some similarity to this pea weavil: http://info.ag.uidaho.edu/keys/plates/plate40.htm [Broken]
 
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  • #19
russ_watters
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what is the FDA limits...

btw if it isn't zero isnt it kind of implying that it is fine for companies to have bugs in their food..call me old-fashioned..but i dont like the idea of eating bugs..
Dang, you guys are so naive. Corn and grain are cut and processed mechanically. How could they possibly get all the bugs out except by hand-sorting?

Anyway, I picked this link up with a quick google. Not that I understand what it means (what exactly is a fragment?), but it is interesting, since I'm working in a cocoa processing plant right now. http://www.fda.gov/ora/compliance_ref/cpg/cpgfod/cpg515-700.html
1. Insect Filth


a. The chocolate in six (6) 100 gram subsamples contains an average of 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams.

or

b. Any one subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments, even if the overall average of all the subsamples is less than 60.

2. Rodent Filth

a. The chocolate in six (6) 100 gram subsamples contains an average of more than 1.0 rodent hair per 100 grams, regardless of the size of the hairs or hair fragments.

or

b. Any one subsample contains more than 3 rodent hairs even if the overall average is less than 1.0 rodent hair.
 
  • #20
turbo
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Fig Newtons, anyone?

http://archive.salon.com/health/col/roac/2000/01/14/filth_lab/print.html [Broken]
 
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  • #21
Math Is Hard
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Fig Newtons, anyone?

http://archive.salon.com/health/col/roac/2000/01/14/filth_lab/print.html [Broken]

That article is hysterical!
What do these insects that we are eating every day taste like? FDA entomologist Steve Anghold told me that if you have enough aphids ground up in a batch of hops, it might conceivably make the beer taste sweeter, because aphids secrete a sweet fluid. In fact, he went on to say, ants "herd aphids like cattle and milk 'em," feeding the sweet fluid to their ant infants. "That's why aphids are called ant cows," he said. It was one of those unsettling journalistic moments where you wonder whether your source has been having an especially dull afternoon and is having you on for the fun of it.

On the contrary, meals made from "microlivestock," as edible insects are called by those who enjoy eating them, are good for you. According to the Ohio State fact sheet, caterpillars have as much protein as beef, a fraction of the fat, 10 times the iron and way more riboflavin and thiamine. Plus the ranches take up much less room and can be staffed by cowboy ants hired away from low-paying aphid-herding jobs.

:rofl:
 
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  • #22
turbo
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That article is hysterical!

:rofl:
I especially liked the estimate that we each eat (unintentionally) between 1-2 lbs of insects per year.
 
  • #23
Moonbear
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Well back to my example. Imagine, if you will, you've just discovered these little rice weevils crawling around in your sack of high quality grain. What to do, to cook and eat or not? You might ponder, if I soak them, maybe the bugs will float. Then I could flush them out and cook the remaining bug free grain. Yea!! :tongue2:

My answer to this question would depend on how hungry I am and how available an alternative food is. Right now, I can afford to toss it in the trash and go out and buy something else to eat. If I were poor and it was my last bag of rice, and I didn't have any money left to buy more, then rice with weevils it is. I might opt to undercook the rice a bit so I don't notice the extra crunchiness, and might have to force myself to eat with my eyes closed the first time, until I convinced myself it was edible, but they won't hurt you. Just think, if you cooked up the rice a few days earlier, before all the bugs hatched from their eggs, you'd have never known they were there. :biggrin:

Just avoid brightly colored bugs...that's usually a sign of toxicity.

(what exactly is a fragment?)

It means that by the time they're measuring the processed sample, they've been ground up like everything else...you're not counting whole bugs, but bug parts. The regulations basically acknowledge that nobody can avoid having some vermin come in with the produce heading to the processing/packaging plant, but when you buy a can of beans, there should be considerably more beans than bugs in it. :biggrin:
 
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  • #25
turbo
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It means that by the time they're measuring the processed sample, they've been ground up like everything else...you're not counting whole bugs, but bug parts. The regulations basically acknowledge that nobody can avoid having some vermin come in with the produce heading to the processing/packaging plant, but when you buy a can of beans, there should be considerably more beans than bugs in it. :biggrin:
One day in elementary school, my mother gave me money to buy lunch instead of walking home (snowy day) and they were having one of my favorite lunches - mashed potatoes, hot dogs with mustard and pickles, green beans, and rice pudding. As it turns out, grasshoppers are shaped very much like green beans, and there was a pretty intact one on my tray in the beans. Not being particularly squeamish, I picked out the hopper and started eating my meal. A few kids at my table got grossed out, and one of my classmates said that I should go change trays and get a fresh serving of beans, which got me laughing pretty hard. I pointed out that his beans had been boiled with the hopper, too, in fact everybody's beans had been. :rofl: If I had wanted extra beans, I could have had all I wanted off the other kids' trays. Only my friend Jack and a couple other kids at my table ate any more beans that day. :tongue2:
 
  • #26
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My Father didn't mind eating bugs, and did quite often when we were in other countries. I would of had to wait untill I was nearly dead, and then after, try to recall it as a NDE, so I could go on with life.
 
  • #27
grant9076
I learned from survival training to make sure that they are dead before you swallow them. Otherwise, they will get scared on the way down, stick out their limbs and get stuck in your throat.:eek:
 
  • #28
BillJx
1st observation: It's normal to be put off by unaccustomed food. Otherwise, why eat lobsters and turn up your nose at insects?
2nd observation: Another thing we're accustomed to is the appearance of a sanitized life. We have critters in our pores, in our guts and in our food. Think of yourself as a big, healthy redwood in the forest, with bugs in its bark and its roots spread out into the living soil. Sterility is only healthy in the surgical ward.
3rd observation: Rodent urine? Well, I work hard. I can probably use the salt.
 
  • #29
Ouabache
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Evo, that life-cycle illustration swayed my opinion too; though I try to keep open-minded about foods to try. Wriggling turnip maggots doesn’t sound too appetizing either.
Monique Finding tiny bugs all around the house without knowing their source can be disconcerting. I’ve had a similar experience once before and it wasn’t pretty. My response was the same, throw everything out and disinfect the area. Since then, I’ve kept my grains, beans and flour in glass containers so that if there was an infestation, it would be isolated. I’m no entymologist, but have had some practice keying insects. Your pea weevil image does look pretty close. The body shape and antennae are strikingly similar.
Russ seems like the FDA recognizes, we are bound to get some insects along with food from the field. I’ve also found stones and small clods of dirt in my dry beans, that get past the sorting sieves. I suppose the FDA doesn't worry as much about those.
Turbo that 1-2 lbs of insects per year statistic surprised me. I suppose if we leaned towards an herbivorous diet, we’d be eating more than 2lbs. And if you include other familiar arthropods (lobster, crab, shrimp), we could consume 2lbs in one meal.
Regarding your grasshopper in the green beans, I probably would have eaten the beans too, as long as they didn’t taste like grasshopper.
Moonbear sounds like bugs are not on your top ten favorite foods.
hypatia your Dad sounds pretty cool and adventurous in his diet.
BillJx good point! when i lived in the midwest, many people would turn up their nose at eating lobster or crab. On the other hand, they had no problem eating 'possum or raccoon. However, upon moving to the coast, the dietary preferences on those examples reversed.

So what cultures actually enjoy eating bugs?
We do, if you include lobsters, crabs and shrimp. In the reference I gave in my OP, in Japan they eat boiled wasp larvae, fried rice-field grasshoppers, fried cicada and silk moth pupae. In parts of Africa they eat termites, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, palm weevil larvae, and compost beetle larvae. And in Bali, dragonflies and damselflies find their way into recipes..

Now lets take different example. How about a food that many of us commonly eat, that is the regurgitated fluid from one of the hymenopterans. I am referring to the common honeybee. After a worker-bee sucks the nectar from flowers into one of their stomachs, they return to the hive where other worker bees suck the nectar out of the carrier’s stomach. They chew on it, digesting the complex sugars with enzymes, into simpler sugars. Then they regurgitate this partially digested fluid into the combs and fan it until it reaches a lower moisture content. http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/073097.html [Broken]. This we enjoy as honey. If the water content is too high, it will naturally ferment to mead.
 
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  • #30
Ouabache
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The thing that immediately crossed my mind after reading the title of this topic is this video I saw recently, it's about roasted tarantulas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQjd3A5W-U4"
Finally got a chance to view this.. Mmmm boy, "hot and crispy" :biggrin: so they've been eating them like that for hundreds of years in Cambodia.
 
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  • #31
radou
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Finally got a chance to view this.. Mmmm boy, "hot and crispy" :biggrin: so they've been eating them like that for hundreds of years in Cambodia.

Although, I must admit I'd be at least a bit tempted to try one of these, since I'm afraid of spiders, and I guess eating one of them could somehow heal my phobia. :biggrin:

I've also heard they make some kind of spider liquor which truckers usually drink to keep them awake. Maybe we should substitute caffeine with tarantulas? :tongue:
 
  • #32
Monique
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I once found a whole head of a grasshopper in my lentils :biggrin: yumm
 
  • #33
radou
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I once found a whole head of a grasshopper in my lentils :biggrin: yumm

Yeah, and I bet the head had great existential thoughts at that time. :tongue:
 
  • #34
Mk
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But what about a taste difference if you were frying the bug-infested rice or steaming it, or something? Would it be noticeable?
 
  • #35
Evo
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A list of edible bugs with some recipes.

http://www.weird-food.com/weird-food-bugs.html [Broken]
 
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