Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Can you safely eat bugs?

Eating bugs sounds like a Fear Factor story line but in fact many cultures regularly consume insects. For example, in Brazil generations of indigenous people treated the ants as a protein substitute for fish and monkeys. Today, residents of Brazil buy the ants and value them not only for their protein, but also as an aphrodisiac and source of natural antibiotics.

Residents of this town 190 miles from São Paulo have kept alive the ancient indigenous tradition by cooking and serving the ants with traditional Brazilian dishes. These are no ordinary ants scampering over sugary leftovers, like the tiny American variety. Içás are big — up to an inch in length — and fat, and they can bite viciously. The ants frequently bit when being caught and it's not unusual to see men whose hands are typically bloodied after a day of catching them.

In the local resturants, the ant delicasy costs about $12 for a large plate of içás fried in pig fat.

Source: New York Times, 1/4/11

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