Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time!

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BT
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2005/06/21 22:35:17 (permalink)

Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time!

Recall the mention of the urban myth that McDonald's uses ground worms in its burgers? Well, that might increase their popularity south of the border.

From the AZ Star (in Tucson):
quote:
Eating of bugs, a longtime Mexican delight, mushrooming
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEXICO CITY - Like many people in his town in the southern Mexico highlands, Gerardo Carrillo looks forward to harvest time in August. That's when he can pick greenish caterpillars off the trees and boil them with a little lime.

"They're good," says the 53-year-old gardener. "They taste a little like grasshoppers."

As Mexico's centuries-old tradition of eating bugs becomes more lucrative - maguey worms and ant eggs are showing up as exotic fare at expensive restaurants - researchers are trying to convince poor villages to cash in on these pests as a means of income.

With a protein content as much as twice that of beef, bugs could also become a welcome diet supplement among the estimated 20 million extremely poor Mexicans who live on incomes of $1 per day or less.

In many towns, especially in southern Mexico, bugs are a regular part of the diet. In Carrillo's home of Zapotitlan de Salinas, 130 miles southeast of Mexico City, residents fry the green caterpillars called "cuchama." They sell some, though they're available only a couple of months a year and don't provide much income.

While the spicy, leggy bodies of locusts; the crusty, french-fried caterpillars; or bursting, buttery ant eggs may be an acquired taste, insect cuisine is winning converts in a variety of ways.

Consider locusts, covered in chocolate or sweet sauce, and worms, in Jell-O or clear, hard candy. Invented by biologist Juan Garcia Oviedo, they have been a big hit in test groups over the last decade.

"The kids love them," Garcia Oviedo said of the clear candy with the bug inside. "They tend to eat the candy to get at the bug to see if it's real. Once they find out it's real, they keep on eating anyway."

Bug movement spreading

Seventeen-year-old student Ariel Elurdoy, waiting for a 65-cent taco at a Mexico City street stand, said he would happily try bug food. He, like many Mexicans, has eaten grasshoppers and would be willing to try the rest of the insect and worm kingdom.

"People should be open to trying these things," Elurdoy said. "They're good."

Long a food source in Oaxaca, the bug movement is spreading. Farmers on the outskirts of Mexico City were spending large amounts of money on pesticides to kill grasshoppers, Garcia Oviedo said, until they found they could get more money for the edible bugs than for their crops.

"Now, these farmers are planting a cheap kind of corn, just to serve as a trap to catch grasshoppers," he noted. "They've seen that it's better to have a crop with pests."

While the ideas have made it to market studies and consumer testing, they still require seed money. Garcia says he has interest from foreign investors but has been hamstrung by Mexican food-safety standards that treat insect content as contamination - rather than a potential main ingredient.

Officials at Mexico's Agriculture Department say insect consumption falls outside regulations because it's a traditional, noncommercial food product.

Researchers note that in Aztec times, pest control was accomplished largely by eating bugs rather than spraying them.

"This could be a cheap food source, while allowing the farmers to take care of their land and avoid biotech crops and pesticides" aimed at eradicating bugs, says business administration professor Idolina Velazquez.

One of her students has recruited farmers in Tlaxcala state, to raise popular maguey worms year-round. This wrinkly worm - really a caterpillar - is the kind sometimes found in a bottle of mescal.

Increased availability would improve the market for the sought-after worms - fried and sold with butter and garlic for as much as $40 a dozen at some upscale Mexican restaurants.

And in some villages in southern Mexico, bug "contamination" is intentional: Ground-up insects are added to hot chile salsa as a nutritional boost.
#1

6 Replies Related Threads

    Pwingsx
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time! 2005/06/22 16:20:51 (permalink)
    Blech.

    Not in THIS lifetime.
    #2
    UncleVic
    Sirloin
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    RE: Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time! 2005/06/22 23:34:29 (permalink)
    I'm still bummin of the lack of Cycadias (sp?) that we enjoyed last year... mmmmmm....
    #3
    olphart
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    RE: Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time! 2005/06/25 12:22:48 (permalink)
    Back in the 60s, a number of “Mondo” movies came out. Mondo Cane was the most well known simply because the theme song from the movie won an Academy Award. It was “More” sung by Vic Dana.

    The Mondo movies were actually documentaries of strange events and rituals from around the world. Among the ones I saw were Mondo Balordo, Mondo Teeno and Mondo Weirdo.

    One popular favorite back then was the movie “Echo” which had a much talked about scene of a Laplander maiden castrating a reindeer in a ritual ceremony. It was the method she employed that made the scene memorable. “Look, Ma. No hands!”

    One of the movies had a scene from a Mexican or some other Latin American country that showed a small boy dipping his hand into a large crock, and pulling out a handful of small, black bugs. He threw the bugs onto a tortilla, doused it with salsa, then, smiling and looking into the camera, he took a large bite of the concoction.

    What was the real topper is when some of the bugs that had escaped in the bite crawled around the boy’s face, whereupon he picked them off one by one and ate them as well!

    Aaaaah, they just don’t make Roadfood movies like they used to.
    #4
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time! 2005/06/25 12:56:58 (permalink)
    When we had the huge cicada bloom a couple of years ago, there were several reports around Knoxville about people trapping them and frying them.

    I have eaten some type of snails at restaurants before. They call it something else (escargot) but that is what they are. They were cooked in butter and garlic.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #5
    SouthHillbilly
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    RE: Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time! 2005/07/01 18:23:39 (permalink)
    I eat fried grasshoppers whenever I get a chance. They're called "chapulinas." Pan fried w/ salt. . . very tasty. Especially good in southern Mexico.
    I've also had fried ant eggs and fried grub worms. The grub worms were especially good covered in a deep red chili sauce. They were small little grub worms not unlike the ant eggs.
    #6
    Adjudicator
    Sirloin
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    RE: Hmm! Caterpillar harvest time! 2005/07/01 19:35:00 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    Recall the mention of the urban myth that McDonald's uses ground worms in its burgers? Well, that might increase their popularity south of the border.

    From the AZ Star (in Tucson):

    quote:
    Eating of bugs, a longtime Mexican delight, mushrooming
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    MEXICO CITY - Like many people in his town in the southern Mexico highlands, Gerardo Carrillo looks forward to harvest time in August. That's when he can pick greenish caterpillars off the trees and boil them with a little lime.

    "They're good," says the 53-year-old gardener. "They taste a little like grasshoppers."

    As Mexico's centuries-old tradition of eating bugs becomes more lucrative - maguey worms and ant eggs are showing up as exotic fare at expensive restaurants - researchers are trying to convince poor villages to cash in on these pests as a means of income.

    With a protein content as much as twice that of beef, bugs could also become a welcome diet supplement among the estimated 20 million extremely poor Mexicans who live on incomes of $1 per day or less.

    In many towns, especially in southern Mexico, bugs are a regular part of the diet. In Carrillo's home of Zapotitlan de Salinas, 130 miles southeast of Mexico City, residents fry the green caterpillars called "cuchama." They sell some, though they're available only a couple of months a year and don't provide much income.

    While the spicy, leggy bodies of locusts; the crusty, french-fried caterpillars; or bursting, buttery ant eggs may be an acquired taste, insect cuisine is winning converts in a variety of ways.

    Consider locusts, covered in chocolate or sweet sauce, and worms, in Jell-O or clear, hard candy. Invented by biologist Juan Garcia Oviedo, they have been a big hit in test groups over the last decade.

    "The kids love them," Garcia Oviedo said of the clear candy with the bug inside. "They tend to eat the candy to get at the bug to see if it's real. Once they find out it's real, they keep on eating anyway."

    Bug movement spreading

    Seventeen-year-old student Ariel Elurdoy, waiting for a 65-cent taco at a Mexico City street stand, said he would happily try bug food. He, like many Mexicans, has eaten grasshoppers and would be willing to try the rest of the insect and worm kingdom.

    "People should be open to trying these things," Elurdoy said. "They're good."

    Long a food source in Oaxaca, the bug movement is spreading. Farmers on the outskirts of Mexico City were spending large amounts of money on pesticides to kill grasshoppers, Garcia Oviedo said, until they found they could get more money for the edible bugs than for their crops.

    "Now, these farmers are planting a cheap kind of corn, just to serve as a trap to catch grasshoppers," he noted. "They've seen that it's better to have a crop with pests."

    While the ideas have made it to market studies and consumer testing, they still require seed money. Garcia says he has interest from foreign investors but has been hamstrung by Mexican food-safety standards that treat insect content as contamination - rather than a potential main ingredient.

    Officials at Mexico's Agriculture Department say insect consumption falls outside regulations because it's a traditional, noncommercial food product.

    Researchers note that in Aztec times, pest control was accomplished largely by eating bugs rather than spraying them.

    "This could be a cheap food source, while allowing the farmers to take care of their land and avoid biotech crops and pesticides" aimed at eradicating bugs, says business administration professor Idolina Velazquez.

    One of her students has recruited farmers in Tlaxcala state, to raise popular maguey worms year-round. This wrinkly worm - really a caterpillar - is the kind sometimes found in a bottle of mescal.

    Increased availability would improve the market for the sought-after worms - fried and sold with butter and garlic for as much as $40 a dozen at some upscale Mexican restaurants.

    And in some villages in southern Mexico, bug "contamination" is intentional: Ground-up insects are added to hot chile salsa as a nutritional boost.



    Dry cat food sounds better than this. But that's just MY opinion...

    #7
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