Calling All Adventurous Eaters!

Read a random article on Philippine street food, and you will come across some really interesting snacks:  adidas, kwek-kwek, betamax, chicken helmets, and many more.

Squeamish folks — iyong mga delikado kuno — will turn their heads and walk away, but many people find these foods acceptable, if not downright delicious.

In my opinion, it’s just a matter of getting used to the street offerings.  Just think: aren’t shrimps and crabs downright ugly creatures?  Look at those legs!  And what about the aligi that we crave so much?  Someone unfamiliar with these creatures will say that sucking all that yellow goo from the heads of shrimps and crabs is absolutely yucky!  Yet we do it, with gusto.

That being said, it would be really beneficial to the economy and to the nutrition of the general populace if we were to adopt what is common practice in Bangkok : entomophagy.  It’s the human practice of eating insects.

Blogger Fecielo reports that in Thailand, insects are regular features of the diet;  snacks of grasshoppers, silk worms, beetles, and water bugs are as common as French fries and roasted peanuts.

fried bug

Insects similar to the ones above are eaten in certain parts of the Philippines:
—  Fried salagubang:  Ganyan sa Nueva Ecija, sarap niyan!”
—  Salagubang larvae:  ‘Masarap iyan, abal-abal ang tawag sa Nueva Viscaya.”
—  Tamilok, a tree worm that tastes like oyster: “Favorite iyan sa Palawan!”
—  Kamaru (mole crickets):  Kamaru-eating contests, popular sa Pampanga!
—  Uok (beetle larvae) adobo: “Gustuhin iyan sa amin sa Rizal.”

Agreed, there’s a following for certain insects in certain parts of the country.  One way to spread consumption is to introduce them as snacks in other areas.  Sell them in small quantities at affordable prices, just so people will be encouraged to try them.

For a few pesos, an adventurous eater can buy a trial-size packet, then maybe “graduate” to a snack-size bag once the initial squeamishness is overcome.  Who knows, that same buyer might swing by one afternoon to buy a meal-size bag so that folks back home can share the delights of munching on the tasty morsels.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), bugs present a possible solution to the world’s growing food problem.  Many insects provide as much protein – weight for weight – as beef and fish; hence, they are good alternatives to eating meat.

It seems like a win-win for all concerned:

— Farmers will have a source of income from gathering insects which are harmful for their crops.

What insects are eaten depends on the time of year.  For example, June beetles will attack rice and sugar cane crops, and when this happens, farmers will capture them at night and later cook and eat them… Locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets are also caught and eaten when they attack crops.

If markets are created in metro areas, the farmers can catch the critters in greater quantities, for sale to processors and vendors.

— Small-time business people will have a source of livelihood.

From the farmer-insect gatherer to wholesalers, to the vendor who hawks the insect delicacies, there is a line of business people who stand to generate income.  In Thailand, insect-growing has become a “small livestock industry.”   In Bangkok, enterprising vendors attach two bins to the back of motorbikes and cruise the city for possible buyers.

— Consumers will have another source of protein food at affordable prices.

The Philippines has one of the wealthiest arthropod collections on the planet.  Numerous insects have double the protein content of many meat sources.

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