Ants and Grasshoppers for Lunch Anyone?

Living the Sweet Life:


By Alisa Murray Nationally recognized portrait artist and award-winning columnist.

By Alisa Murray Nationally recognized portrait artist and award-winning columnist.

When I think of a picnic, I think of that iconic image of a red, checkered blanket and at some point a trail of ants trying to invade and haul off any crumbs they can. Never in my wildest dreams did that vision include making ants the main entrée!

What am I talking about, you ask? These days, in the world of food consumption, one can choose to eat a sandwich, and others can just go eat a bug, making picnics a whole other experience. Yes folks, you read it right…bugs! According to the December 2015 Psychology Today article Got Ants in Your Pans? by Jessica Harvath-Hilgeman, it turns out that around the world, insects such as ants, locusts, mealworms and grasshoppers are consumed by about 2 billion people.

This both disgusted me and intrigued me. When I was a child, one of my fondest memories was spending time in the mountains with my Granny and Big Daddy. We would plan for a day outside, and Granny would make a bunch of sandwiches and lemonade. Big Daddy always had a large watermelon, and we would set off on a big adventure. Sometimes we would go to a picnic table in the Blue Ridge
Parkway, and other times, we would go for a jeep ride up into the mountains and spread out a blanket with the trees as our canopy. While listening to crickets and birds and most often a mountain stream, we would have our lunch. Never in a million years would I have thought to just reach down and
grab an innocent little ant and start
chomping away. Sounds kind of, well, yuck!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations views consumption of insects as essential to food security. Due to our ever-expanding world coupled with mortality rates dropping slightly due to better health and health care advances, food production must increase by 70 percent to feed 2050’s projected 9 billion people. Insects are a viable source of life sustaining protein, and despite your cringing, they are sustainable and less expensive to produce than cattle and pork. Since I have been feeding mealworms to James Edward’s bearded dragon and not to my family at our dinner table, I learned that mealworms have as much unsaturated omega-3 fat as fish do, and a pound of locusts contains more iron than a pound of beef.

During my lifetime, I’ll stick to dill pickles, ham and swiss sandwiches and berries! It’s not that I don’t want to be hip and all, but at this point, I think I am just too old to change. They say that the crickets taste like cashews and sweet corn, and the ants, well those are really advanced in the foodie world. Who knew? Those little guys come in flavors such as honey and bacon. I think I’d rather have the real thing though. I could perhaps see having a cricket breakfast bar if I live long enough to see my great-grandchildren and don’t really know what’s going on around me anymore. At that point I wouldn’t really care, and I guess that would be alright!

I want to hear from you! What unusual foods have you tried? Did you like them?

Take Care of YOU!