Entomophagy in humans
Insects in human nutrition worldwide
FAO employees estimate that insects are part of the traditional diet of nearly 2 billion people ("part of the traditional diets"), widespread in parts of Africa , Asia , North , Central and South America and among the native Australians . In western cultures, entomophagy is a marginal phenomenon and is often associated with feelings of disgust ( food taboo ).
Given their distribution, it is easy to collect insects, especially in tropical regions. In addition, they reproduce quickly and are easy to keep and breed, which is particularly important in the so-called developing countries with frequent famine . A veritable insect kitchen has often established itself there.
Australia and Papua New Guinea
The Aborigines of Australia are known to eat various larvae (for example the witchetty maggot ) raw or cooked in sand and ash. The Bogong moth of the mountains of the same name was particularly popular, Josephine Flood described extensive feasts of several tribes in the book The Moth Hunter . The bogong moth is fried in the sand and loses legs and wings, after which the head is removed. What remains is the fleshy abdomen, which is boiled or baked into cakes. Even sweets are the insects Aborigines: The Collector of honeypot ant hanging bulging with a hint of honey sticky mass in their nests and so offer a sweet dessert.
In various African states, particularly Nigeria , a number of insects are regularly eaten. These include cooked or raw termites (the queen in particular is considered a delicacy), roasted grasshoppers or the thick palm beetle larvae. The so-called Bushman rice ( English Bushman rice , also Bushman's rice or Hottentots rice ) of the San consists of the optically rice-like pupae of different termite species.
In Japan , dishes such as hachi-no-ko (cooked wasp larvae ) and semi (fried cicadas ) are prepared. In Bali , dragonflies are caught with special glue sticks. After the wings have been removed, the animals are cooked in various sauces. In Thailand , cockroaches and water beetles as well as all kinds of larvae are prepared in different ways and are available to take away in public cookshops. A giant bug species is also considered a delicacy there. Where there is silk production , the larvae of the silk moth contained in the cocoons are used as food after the cocoons have been boiled.
Mexico and Central America
In Mexico , where insects as food fetch higher prices than high-quality meat in the markets, “agave caterpillars” are added to agave schnapps mezcal . Possibly since the Aztecs time of apply agaves living caterpillars of comadia redtenbacheri well as Scyphophorus acupunctatus considered edible.
In upscale restaurants, cooked ant larvae are considered a delicate (and very expensive) starter: the larvae are mixed with oil and garlic and served with tortillas . This dish, called escamoles , is known by many as “Mexican caviar ”.
In itself, this does not belong to the field of entomophagy , since spiders are not insects , but the indigenous people of the Amazon and Orinoco regions slurp a raw and still living giant spider as a delicacy - the appreciation is comparable to the appreciation that is raw in Europe Oysters are offered as a delicacy.
While other arthropods such as lobsters , prawns , crabs or shrimp are traded as expensive delicacies , the thought of eating insects is not very widespread in Europe and is usually associated with feelings of disgust.
In Sardinia and in parts of France, certain types of cheese, in which the larva of a small fly develops, are considered to be particularly delicate ( Casu Marzu ). A cockchafer soup was known in Germany and France until the middle of the 20th century . In the Magazin für Staatsarzneikunde of 1844, the Medical Councilor Johann Schneider recommended this dish, which is reminiscent of crab soup, as an “excellent and strong food” for which 30 beetles per person are caught, washed and pounded in a mortar, then fried in butter and boiled with broth. And he added that candied cockchafer was a popular dessert among students.
In the big cities, such as Berlin , there are a few restaurants that have prepared insects on the menu. The visitors to the EXPO 2000 in Hanover were offered roasted grasshoppers, which taste reminiscent of a mixture of potato chips and peanuts, but only a few visitors wanted to eat them. In Brixen / South Tyrol, locusts were still on sale in the market hall around 2001.
A survey by the AStA of the University of Münster with more than 9,000 student participants showed that 28% of those questioned would like to try insects. If the cafeteria occasionally offered insects for consumption, it would make no difference for the majority (57%) in terms of frequency of visits, while 22% would avoid the cafeteria and 7% of those surveyed would go to the cafeteria more often.
Already around 700 BC In an Assyrian representation, a feast with locusts was depicted as a delicacy. Both the Bible and the Quran contain references to eating locusts. Even in ancient times , the Greeks and Romans ate insects and their larvae , for example bees and cicadas . Wood drill caterpillars ( Latin cossus ) were considered a delicacy by Greeks and Romans (especially Epicureans ). Some of them were fattened with flour. However, other caterpillars of wood-eating butterflies and grubs of beetles such as those of the stag beetle ( Lucanus cervus ) can also be subsumed under the term .
The ancient Israelites, on the other hand, were not allowed to eat insects as non-kosher (except for four precisely identified species of grasshopper). This still applies today within the framework of the Jewish food laws.
The FAO supports the breeding and consumption of insects through programs such as "Edible Insects" as measures against malnutrition in tropical and subtropical regions. In addition, the rearing of food insects offers economic opportunities for the local population, as it can be operated on a small scale without much technical effort. The products can be sold on the local markets and provide small farmers with an important source of income. The EU is funding the research with 3 million euros.
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