Why worry if you accidentally swallow an insect?

It happens every day. You’re out for a run or biking on the farmland, doing an evening round the fence run in campus and, whoosh, an insect lands in your mouth. The ick factor is high, but can it cause any real harm? Well…swallowing an insect is largely harmless. For real!

Most people get bit or stung by something, and many of

starfried-cricks
Star fried crickets

us even eat a few critters. I am sure I’ve swallowed my fair share of insects. I know you are thinking its gross but it’s just a fact of life. The good thing with me is that I have intentionally swallowed quite a handful too. For the most part, eating a bug isn’t cause for worry. In general, your body will digest arthropods, which include arachnids like spiders, mites and ticks, and insects such as gnats, flies, mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs, just like any other food. This means that eating a bug now and then probably won’t be a problem for most.

I am one of few who believe that swallowing an occasional live bug adds to their protein, vitamin and minerals intake. For those populations around the world who regularly ingest

marinatec-cricket_watermarked2
Marinated crickets garnished with vegetables of the season

beetles, termites, ants, spiders and other arthropods, eating bugs can be an important source of these essential nutrients. But, it’s a good idea to cook the bugs before eating them in order to generally kill any harmful bacteria and parasites. If you’re going to get serious about eating insects like me, cook it!

I have this amazing colleague at Edible Insects Gastronomy Lab at JKUAT who is a gastronomist. Anything she touches turns to a delicious meal. She is a strong believer in the adage that a delicious meal is only limited by the chefs imagination. Her hands are like this magic wand that turns the most unfoody looking ingredient to a mouth watering delicacy. She has turned insects into dishes out of this world. If foods wear bow ties, hers would wear a red one! I think she can even cook stones or those mean looking railway steels lying idle with envy all over their face as they watch the new standard gauge railway snaking from Mombasa to Nairobi. I think I want to be a railway line in the after life. To just sit there unmoved by the years of merciless elements of weather and human activity!…mmmh

I digressed. Going back to the story…the bottom line is, avoid swallowing uncooked bugs but if you do, the enzymes and acids in your gut will do justice to it!

Happy 2017 bug lovers!

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2 thoughts on “Why worry if you accidentally swallow an insect?

  1. I think my next destination is your lab,luckily am bigger than Safari ant,so lucky that no one’s fingers can turn me into a cookie 😂

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