It’s been said that there is nothing new under the sun, and pretty much everything that trends in our society has been a topic of discussion long before.
One of the single biggest topics concerning food sources, and supposedly helping the environment, is eating bugs and specifically eating crickets.
Proponents claim they are a tremendous source of nutrients and also much easier on the planet than other sources of animal protein.
Detractors say they are just nasty bugs with unknown health ramifications for long-term consumption.
What we need to know is how well crickets work as a survival food, and specifically how much protein they contain. So, just how much protein is in your average cricket?
Most cricket species are approximately 60% of protein by weight, meaning for every 10 grams of cricket you consume six of them will be pure protein.
This makes crickets very energy dense as far as macronutrients are concerned, and the fact that they’re found all over the world in tremendous abundance means they can be a great survival food option.
Most seasoned preppers and outdoorsmen already know that bugs are invariably on the menu when you’re in the middle of a legitimate survival situation, and to some of us it feels like the rest of the world is merely catching up with this necessity!
But if you’re new to the idea or have ever only considered crickets as a food option of uttermost dire necessity, there’s a lot more you’ll need to know before you start roasting crickets over your campfire.
Why Would Anyone Eat Crickets or other Bugs?
The most obvious question concerning the question of eating crickets is “why?” Why would anyone eat a bug, voluntarily or not? For starters, insects have actually been eaten for generations by many cultures around the world, and are still eaten today in just as many areas.
Consider too that crickets and other insects might be the only reliable source of animal protein to be had; and this could apply to you, too, if you ever find yourself in a bad situation!
And then of course there’s the simple fact of necessity. Sometimes, the only thing you might have to eat at all is a bug.
If your options are to starve or run dangerously low on energy, eating crickets is probably going to start looking pretty appealing!
Are There Benefits to Eating Crickets?
First and foremost, crickets are a great source of protein, even compared to other, larger animals like cows and pigs.
Crickets also have a good balance of essential amino acids, and vast amounts of other micronutrients that keep your body functioning properly.
Crickets themselves are especially rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Overall, they are highly nutritious despite their “gross out” nature in the eyes of many people.
In addition to this, crickets can be found in most parts of the world, from plains to woodlands, and even in urban environments if you look hard enough.
They also happen to be much, much easier to catch than other animals like rodents, birds, and bigger and potentially dangerous game.
So anyone looking for survival food (or an alternative to expensive store-bought proteins) should at least consider trying out some crickets.
And crickets are calorie dense: You also won’t need tons and tons of crickets to feel full, either, which means that you can easily satiate yourself with only a few handfuls. In the event of a survival experience, there are few better meals than crickets.
Cricket Nutritional Info
As mentioned above, crickets have a surprisingly good nutritional profile of macro- and micronutrients.
The big winner is now, as always, protein, with crickets being approximately 60% protein by weight along with some fats and carbohydrates.
Levels vary with the species and individual, of course, but that is a reliable figure you can count on.
But the vitamin and mineral content is likewise impressive. Crickets are packed with abundant B vitamins, fiber, iron, calcium and other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and copper.
With incredible nutritional value like this in one small insect, it’s not hard to see why cricket consumption has become a hot topic, and why they have long been a favorite survival staple.
What are the Downsides to Eating Crickets?
There are a few downsides to consider, which mostly revolve around the fact that crickets can carry parasites and other pathogens.
This is why it’s important to always cook your crickets thoroughly before eating them: not just for taste but also for safety.
Additionally, if you do plan on eating them as a regular part of your diet, you should get in the habit of eating them with some sort of plant material or something else high in fiber so that those proteins and minerals don’t make digestion too difficult on your body.
How Do Crickets Taste?
That depends on whether or not they are cooked. Cooked, crickets are said to taste something like an oily tree nut, variously described as cashews or almond-like depending on who you are talking to.
Raw, well… raw they taste gross. They are crunchy, splintery, gritty, and overall pretty nasty. Not recommended!
It’s somewhat comforting to know that crickets can also take to seasoning and being used as an ingredient for dishes like cricket pasta, cricket tacos, and more.
A few extra ingredients might make all the difference in the experience for you!
Is it Safe to Eat Cooked Crickets?
Yes, and this is the very best way you can eat them. Cooked crickets are tasty and relatively easy to digest, and they also taste much better than raw.
Some good ways to cook crickets include roasting or pan-frying them in a skillet or baking them. The actual cooking process doesn’t take long so make sure not to overcook them!
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Crickets?
It is risky: crickets can carry parasites and germs, and they are only killed by cooking or, in some cases freezing.
That said, raw crickets are not otherwise harmful, so they can be eaten raw in an emergency. However, your risk of getting sick will be much higher! Only eat them raw if you have no other choice.
Is it Safe to Eat Live Crickets?!
As safe as eating them raw- that is to say “risky.” And, though it isn’t necessarily any more dangerous, eating a thrashing, live cricket is certainly going to take a mental toll on most people!
Are There Any Toxic Crickets to Worry About?
No, not true crickets, though some lookalike bugs might be toxic. This is why it is so important to do your research and make sure you can positively identify any given cricket species in the area where you live or might be forced to survive.
The good news is that most cricket species are quite easy to identify, and no matter where they are found you’ll be able to find some that are just fine for eating. Mole crickets, for instance, are found in damp soil and gardens, and have a lot of protein.
House crickets, also known as golden Jerusalem crickets, have a sweeter flavor and creamy texture when cooked.
Field crickets are black-brown in color and native to Europe, Russia and Japan; they have a milder taste than other cricket species and are often served either boiled or deep-fried as an appetizer or snack. Lastly, cave crickets live in dark caves worldwide.
They all look a little different, but all are safe and edible…
Are There Any Special Health Risks Associated with Eating Crickets?
Not really, so long as they are cooked, but eaten raw you run the risk of disease due to possible intestinal parasites, harmful bacteria and viruses in them.
Ingesting these living organisms can cause diarrheal illnesses and fever, or worse. Some common diseases associated with eating raw crickets are toxoplasmosis, salmonellosis and E. coli infections.
Furthermore, consuming parasitic larvae or eggs contained in the cricket can result in hepatitis A, cysticercosis or even trichinosis.
Trichinosis is the most serious of these diseases, and its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, and fatigue.
Additional severe medical problems such as heart and eye inflammation can also occur. It is important to thoroughly cook any cricket before consuming in order to avoid potential health risks.