1

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Really... did Grok eat bugs?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 30, 2012 at 6:34 PM

CNN is calling this habit healthy. I wonder, though, is there any evidence that our ancestors ate a lot of bugs? We eat many things today that weren't eaten in Paleo times but that doesn't imply they're healthy for us. I imagine they wouldn't have for a few reasons:

  • Many bugs can harm us. Even those that don't are probably found near those that do.
  • They're a lot of work to collect for the calories they provide. Most are low in fat.
  • Many are poisonous if eaten

With a few exceptions, that just about every culture considers them revolting suggests that we've developed an aversion to them. At least from what I've come across, few modern hunter gatherer tribes even consider them a vital source of their diet.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on November 30, 2012
at 11:06 PM

Damn I still haven't been to China. About the calorie ocst vs calorie beneift of eating bugs and grubs is that where there is one, there are usually many others. Like, flip over a log and there are hundreds of larvae (a delicacy). So, it's not like you do a bunch of foraging for ONE single bug, you do foraging for ONE sum of bugs.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 30, 2012
at 08:54 PM

Lots of humans still eat bugs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insects_as_food i.e. in 80% of the world's nations. Also consider http://cargocollective.com/ento (by a friend of mine).

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f

(4238)

on November 30, 2012
at 08:22 PM

Good point! And when I was in Australia I learned all about witchetty grubs.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:47 PM

agreed, I've had barbequed crickets in china -- actually pretty good. That also reminds me that the crickets there were HUGE. Perhaps insects used to be larger and carried a larger caloric load?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:42 PM

Yeah and the second point- shellfish are low in fat too, but they do provide valuable protein, vitamins, minerals, and EFAs. Also, the statement about most other cultures find them repulsive is absolutely false. Maybe most western cultures, but not cultures generally. China, Cambodia, Thailand, and Mexico are all places where bugs are everyday foods and also are delicacies.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:34 PM

I saw a documentary in papua new guinea which was similar to the termite thing, some people were chowing down after finding a nest of grubs, which can apparently be pretty fatty.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:30 PM

Good point about recognizing the harmful foods. We certainly did the same of plants, why not bugs?

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4 Answers

3
0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f

on November 30, 2012
at 06:54 PM

I'd be really surprised if they didn't. I know I look at the squirrels in my back yard differently, and sometimes even the garden slugs, depending how hungry I feel. And I'm a modern woman who knows very, very little about real hunger.

We had to learn the hard way which roots, berries, leaves and whatnot could hurt us if we ate them, I don't see a difference with animals or insects. If you know the right bugs to eat they're apparently a good source of fats and protein. And many venom-bearing insects (scorpions come to mind) and fish are considered delicacies even now -- check out scorpions and fugu.

Edited to add: As for effort, I watched a nature special once where a primate sat down next to a termite mound and snacked all day. Easier than bringing down a Thompson's gazelle, anyway.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:34 PM

I saw a documentary in papua new guinea which was similar to the termite thing, some people were chowing down after finding a nest of grubs, which can apparently be pretty fatty.

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f

(4238)

on November 30, 2012
at 08:22 PM

Good point! And when I was in Australia I learned all about witchetty grubs.

2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:04 PM

Your first one and the last point one don't make sense to me. There are animals that can harm us, and we learned to identify the ones that we should go after -- same with bugs. If that giant spider over there is going to harm me, I'll leave it alone. If that slug is poisonous I'll leave it alone. But those cricket are sure easy to catch and eat.

I think your second point is important. A big slug is what -- a calorie? I cannot imagine the amount of work that goes into foraging for a slug to get a single calorie.

That being said, I assume they did, there's lots of evidence from modern HG that they eat insects, why not our ancestors...

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:42 PM

Yeah and the second point- shellfish are low in fat too, but they do provide valuable protein, vitamins, minerals, and EFAs. Also, the statement about most other cultures find them repulsive is absolutely false. Maybe most western cultures, but not cultures generally. China, Cambodia, Thailand, and Mexico are all places where bugs are everyday foods and also are delicacies.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on November 30, 2012
at 11:06 PM

Damn I still haven't been to China. About the calorie ocst vs calorie beneift of eating bugs and grubs is that where there is one, there are usually many others. Like, flip over a log and there are hundreds of larvae (a delicacy). So, it's not like you do a bunch of foraging for ONE single bug, you do foraging for ONE sum of bugs.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:30 PM

Good point about recognizing the harmful foods. We certainly did the same of plants, why not bugs?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 30, 2012
at 07:47 PM

agreed, I've had barbequed crickets in china -- actually pretty good. That also reminds me that the crickets there were HUGE. Perhaps insects used to be larger and carried a larger caloric load?

1
06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on November 30, 2012
at 07:49 PM

a primate sat down next to a termite mound and snacked all day

This. Finding a one of these or an ant colony would be an insect buffet. Also found this (http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/dept/bugfood1.asp) showing how much insect product is in the food we are already consuming and some other fun facts.

Matt
PhysiqueRescue.com

0
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on November 30, 2012
at 07:03 PM

Eating insects is obviously a cultural thing. What you or I might consider disgusting someone else may consider a delicacy. I find it interesting that Jewish kashrut (dietary laws), developed by a people OCD about what went in their bellies, allowed the consumption of locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets. Just as some plants are poisonous and others are nutritious, HG's must have known which bugs were good and safe to eat.

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