So if you didn’t accidentally find this blog by typing “stuff my cat ate” on Google, you might already know that I’m ignoring your humor needs completely as I write my fifth book. Everything is, in fact, all about me.
But yesterday I learned one of the great things about being a writer, even an unloved/unpaid one. We get to search for the craziest shit online and call it research. The only downside is we have to make sure all of our searches are spelled correctly or we get sent to porn websites. And I defy anyone to tell me that my hour and a half reading up on bugs was not research.
Step One: Google the question, “What do bugs taste like?”
Step Two: Find a search result called InsectsAreFood.com and read everything on their site. NOTE: wipe tongue with a dry washcloth the whole time you’re reading that site because you’re going to start imagining insect legs stuck to the roof of your mouth.
Step Three: Decide the all-encompassing website on eating bugs wasn’t quite all-encompassing enough, and go to the Contact Us tab to email them with several bizarre questions, making sure to mention that you’re not just a weirdo or that you’re not mocking them, you’re actually writing a book and thank you very much.
Step Four: Wait until the owner of the website gets off work (he has other monetary needs besides food, since his foods needs have been met by crickets) and emails you a lovely response:
Hi Lorca Damon
Interesting questions. Allow me….
1) In a society without electricity, running water, etc. (think Mad Max), how would they “grow” bugs (ie, housing needs, water needs)? What would I feed them?
Bugs don’t need what humans need – they don’t need electricity or running water. Insects suck nutrients (water) from a wide range of flora. Plants and trees grow in even the most arid of regions. There will always be life. Where there is life there is water. The bugs will find it. They burrow inside bark and other forms of flora. They don’t need us to feed them. I imagine in a society without electricity or running water it would be vital to keep moving and searching for water and food, so it wouldn’t be prudent or productive to farm (anything), unless one were to harness wind to produce power from rain water. But that’s stretching one’s chances.
2) How would they be prepared in order to get the most nutrition out of them? I know about toasting them, but wouldn’t that deplete any water left inside them? In the setting of my novel, wouldn’t my characters see that as a waste of water?
Eat bugs raw. In the time your novel is set, eating bugs will be where sushi was thirty years ago. Raw is the new cooked.
3) I’ve got my more resourceful characters grinding insects into a paste and mixing it with animal fat and broth to make it as palatable as possible. Is that a likely scenario? And is that a nutritious way to eat insects? (this particular group of characters are the more sensible, survivalist people)
Insects can be incorporated into any type food stuff. The fresher and least cooked, the more nutritious. If one wishes to truly survive in an era of Mad Max type climate and social upheaval and potential violence, one rule of thumb that all humans must be aware of is that it is best to avoid brightly colored and spiny/barbed insects. They are likely a death knell.
Good luck. When (notice I did not say “if”) you finish the novel, thank me somewhere in some way, if you feel my responses were effective. I wish you well.
Founder, Insects Are Food
I particularly appreciated Mr. Dennis pointing out that neither my characters nor I should ever come in contact with anything that is either pretty or stabby. That advice applies on so many levels.