Tag Archives: ancestral eating

7 Reasons You Should Be Eating Bugs. Really.

Eating bugs is one of those taboo topics in North America and Europe (although the rest of the world, which is 80% of the population, eats bugs regularly).  But here?  Here it’s kind of like eating dirt or something yucky.  It’s time to shift those perceptions though because as it turns out bugs are health food for you, and for the planet and they could be the key to solving world hunger.  Outside of those lofty goals, they’re just really freaking good for you and have a nutty, easy to eat flavor just as long as you get past the thinking about it phase.

Top 7 Reasons You Should Be Eating Bugs:

Here are some statistics according to the Institute of Food Technologists:

  1. Protein – It’s easy to think of beef as the biggest, baddest protein source in the world, but actually bugs can claim that crown.  Crickets are 65% protein, where beef is only 50%. That’s a huge leap (bad cricket humor).
  2. Nutritarian – in addition to the protein, insects are one of the most nutritarian foods I’ve ever heard of, and you know I like my nutritarian, nutrition-packed foods.  Bugs have a broad range of amino-acids, vitamins, minerals, trace-minerals and they’re high in good fats including unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Seriously – it’s like super food.
  3. Low Fat – Many different types of edible insects have less than 5 grams of fat per serving.
  4. Sustainable – While modern agriculture is destroying the earth with chemicals, pesticide and huge land-use, insects don’t need much space, live in every sort of condition and eat just about everything.  Bugs are the perfect crop. I stumbled across a great charity that is working to promote bug-awareness as a sustainable food source. They do bug tastings and events and that sort of thing so check them out – they’re called (hilariously) Little Herds.
  5. Easy to Cook With – It sounds counter-intuitive to our Western minds, but you can cook bugs bunches of different ways from sauteed to pan fry to baked, roasted or boiled.  The easiest way to use them is actually in an insect-based flour that is high protein, high fiber and blends easily with regular flour to add nutritional oomph to your meal without having to know you’re eating bugs.
  6. Abundant – if there’s anything we’re not running out of, it’s bugs.  Plus there are hundreds of different species so you can find your favorites with many, many, many to choose from.
  7. Taste – you many not believe me but different species of bugs are delicacies around the world, prized as choice dishes.  The flavors have been described as nutty, like shrimp or (the common phrase) it tastes like chicken. Ha!

The Worse Sales-Pitch Ever for Eating Bugs (watch until the end. It’s a killer)

Yeah – so, disregard that guy. Great info, but really???

Where Do I Even Get Bugs To Eat?

Outside of harvesting in your back yard, which seems to me like it’s probably just a little too “real” if you’re just starting out on this bug adventure, you can buy bugs on amazon (they really do have everything).  Also the occasional health food store will have insect-based products.  I haven’t tried the bugs yet, but I’m keen to get started and I’m thinking that either flour or protein bar might be the way to go… I’m used to adding alternative flours to recipes so I will for sure keep you posted on this project…

Price-wise, here’s the best price on cricket flours that I found (still pretty pricey, for bugs):

Eating bugs is great for you! Cricket flour might be an easier way to get into this than, say, the chocolate covered scorpions (eek!)

Eating bugs is great for you! Cricket flour might be an easier way to get into this than, say, the chocolate covered scorpions (eek!)

I have to say, I’m really enjoying the company’s write-up about it:

Looking for an unusual and unique way to fuel your high protein diet? Nature has the answer with this nourishing flour made entirely from ground crickets.  To most, eating crickets may appear to have a high ‘yuk’ factor but you won’t spot any of the distinctive characteristics of our chirruping chums in this flour.

Our crickets are raised commercially, fed a specifically developed, healthy diet and are raised in clean and hygienic conditions. Containing no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, this low-fat flour has many nutritional benefits. Packed with vitamin B12 and iron, and rich in protein, it can be used to produce energy bars, snacks and much more.

The flour is produced at our FDA approved factory where the crickets are cleaned, processed and packed ready to be shipped off to you in handy foil pouches. Each 100 grams (0.22 pounds) of cricket flour contains approximately 1,112 of our premium Acheta Domestica crickets! Who knew that Pinocchio’s wise little sidekick could be so tasty and nutritious?

Ha! Pinocchio’s little sidekick indeed. I suppose you would have to have a sense of humor if you make bug flour for a living. A good point here is that bugs fit nicely into an ancestral diet or paleo diet because they are chock full of protein, fiber and nutrients and certainly don’t have to be farmed or domesticated to be eaten.  In my research I found a fascinating article in scientific american about what the “true” paleolithic diet might be, and although the bottom line included complex factors like gut evolution, this stood out to me:

They eat and ate meat, BUT most of that meat comes from insects. And so if you are serious about eating a really old school paleo diet, if you mean to eat what our bodies evolved to eat in the “old” days, you really need to be eating more insects

Essential our ancestors were eating bugs in addition to lots of plant matter including starchy roots and only small amounts of meat and extremely small amounts of grains.  That’s a big diversion from the modern-day paleo diet. Does that mean modern paleo is wrong?  No – not at all, it just means that we tend to modernize even our view of ancestral eating to take out the things that don’t fit into our cultural view, like eating bugs.

Beyond Paleo Diet – the Ideal Cave Man Diet

The paleo diet is hugely popular because for so many people it changes the way they feel completely and improves their health beyond measure, but it’s not exactly right for some people, hence the Ideal Cave Man Diet.  The basic idea behind both of these diets is that your way-back ancestors (cave men in the paleolithic era) probably ate a diet that is closer to the optimal diet for your genetics.  This is actually pretty sound logic, especially given how much food has changed in the last 100-150 years with the advent of the modern chemical era.

Paleo Diet Basics

  • Based on an ancestral way of eating from the paleolithic era
  • Human diet pre-farming and domestication of animals this means:
    • No grains like wheat, oats, corn and rye
    • No legumes like soy, beans, lentils
    • No milk or dairy products because really how often would you hunt a nursing animal?
    • No refined or unrefined cane sugar
    • No artificial sweeteners
    • No processed foods at all
    • Diet based entirely on meat, veggies and fruit.
  • It’s easy to see why people feel better with this type of eating because everything they’re getting is nutrient dense real food (my favorite – nutritarian eating).

Paleo Diet Limitations

For people with a tendency towards inflammation the paleo diet is a mixed blessing. Many of the inflammatory foods, like refined carbohydrates, sugar and GMO grains are excluded from paleo, which is awesome. The problem is, of the allowed foods (meat, fish, veggies and fruits, limited nuts) the one that most people coming from a  standard american diet (SAD) eat is meat.  So paleo for the novice eater or non-health-nut can often mean “meatatarian.” Worse, it frequently means “baconatarian” which god knows is delicious, but not so good if you have clogged arteries already and a family history of early heart attacks.

Because of this, I usually give my clients the caveat of eating a “veggie heavy paleo diet” but really, what does that mean? It often creates more questions than it answers. Hence trying to simplify to the Ideal Cave Man Diet.

What Is The Ideal Cave Man Diet?

This is essentially the paleo diet, but with a nod to keeping your levels of inflammation down because unfortunately meat in large amounts can be inflammatory – so it’s the even-more-anti-inflammatory version of paleo. It’s not really a separate diet, but a modified way of looking at ancestral eating. Here’s what’s different:

  • More veggies – Veggies and fruits should be the centerpiece of every meal, with roughly twice the amount of veggie to protein (protein being meat, fish, some eggs).
  • Grains – Research has shown that people living in the paleolithic era did actually have some grains, some legumes and some starchy roots in their diet (which is not in the strict paleo diet). Keep in mind these would have been eaten in amounts you could stumble across in the wild, not amounts you would get from a farmed crop.  This means very little and infrequently.  So for ideal cave man eating this means:
    • Tiny amounts of healthy non-GMO and non-selectively bred grains or legumes, eaten infrequently.  So an occasional small serving of lentils, black beans, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or teff is acceptable.
    • The majorly “bred” grains and legumes are still out – this would include wheat, corn, soy.
  • Tubers – paleo diet has been pretty clear about no starchy tubers, like potatoes. This makes sense because often potatoes make a good grain replacement and so people go crazy with root veggie starch when grain starch is taken out.  Research is clear though that tubers, albeit different ones, were actually a part of the true ancestral diet – with nut sedge being a clear example.  Like grains I feel this gives some wiggle room to add tubers and root veggies back into the diet in moderation – this would include things like yams, sweet potatoes, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes and turnip. Not perhaps as the center point of a meal, but in small amounts here and there.
  • Your Family History – If you or members of your family have serious inflammatory diseases including heart and cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and even cancer then the ratios of veggie and fruit to protein should be different than those of a person without severe inflammatory disease. Ideal Cave Man Diet essentially tailors the ratios of these foods to keep the diet more strongly anti-inflammatory for those who need it.
  • Dairy – The strict peleo people are going to hate this, but there is really great evidence from the Price-Pottinger Foundation that small amounts of raw or fermented dairy in the human diet is linked to better structural growth, more bone stability and better reproductive success. Provided there is not a specific food sensitivity to dairy (which would make it unhealthy for you in particular) then small amounts can be added in to the ideal cave man diet, especially fermented dairy like yoghurt, kefir, cheese and fermented butter.

Sound Complicated? Hopefully This Graphic About Ideal Cave Man Diet Will Help…

The Ideal Cave Man Diet helps give you all the great things about the paleo diet, with a little more flexability to take your family history into account.

The Ideal Cave Man Diet helps give you all the great things about the paleo diet, with a little more flexability to take your family history into account.

My whole take on nutrition is that every way of eating has to have some flexibility to take into account your particular needs – that means your genetic predisposition based on your family history as well as your own personal disease risk. Outside of that, there must be a little bit of wiggle room generally because it just isn’t healthy to eat exactly the same things all the time. There must be some variety and some variation and the ideal cave man diet makes a little more room for that than classic paleo.  For more information about ways to personalize this type of diet you can also check out this article on personalized paleo