Eat Grubs

If you were ever wondering what the official term for ‘fear of creepy crawlies (insects)’ is, it’s the endearingly-titled entomophobia.

Specific crawler fear can be broken down into more particular descriptions: in the cases of bees it’s apiphobia, or ants it’s myrmecophobia, and perhaps our favourite, of the reigning creepy crawler, arachnophobia.

Sticking with entomophobia for simplicity, the name derives from the Greek entomos, meaning insects, and phobos, meaning deep dread or fear. The Latin etymology refers to mites, Acaro, giving us Acarophobia.

Fear is an intense word. When we consider fear, we can probably imagine an infinite number of scenarios to accurately place ourselves in its shoes from a range of life experiences: near-death expectancy, or perhaps simply being terrified of being hurt, ashamed, rejected. In some way, fear amounts to an expectation of something negative resulting from a specific situation. We’ve perhaps all been there: afraid to ask someone out on a date, afraid to speak up in class, afraid to try something new, afraid to be seen doing something different, perhaps all on the lower end of the fear factor scale. Avoiding such cases is a weave of daily habits, responses, conversations, decisions.

Conversely, embracing the expectancy of that tummy-fluttering, tantalising unknowing is a craving, bordering upon obsession. From base jumpers to downhill skiers, gamblers to stock brokers, thrills and fear are deeply intertwined.

For some, not all. For others these seemingly minor and avoidable interactions create intense anxiety, not a light topic to draw us into, so another dedicated post would be required to cover that ground. Let’s stick to insects…

photo credit: Walt Disney, Pinocchio

Cricket. Specifically the species of crickets (as opposed to the sport), and the state that I’m highlighting which is cricket powder, or cricket flour. When I think of crickets I think perhaps of grasshoppers, I’m admittedly not educated enough in the field of entomophagy to be able to compare the two, but I do think of Jiminy Cricket, the lovable conscience hero out of one of my favourite Disney films, Pinocchio.

A few months ago, my partner and I were watching an episode of Planet Earth, or a documentary of that ilk, and somehow we got on to discussing alternative sources of food. We are both active in restricting processed foods from our family’s diet, as well as ways to not contaminate the environment any more than we can wilfully subject it, and the thread of discussions landed squarely with eating insects.

I balked. Naturally. A deep-rooted entomophobia surfaced without even having to see an insect in plain sight. It was the idea. And I think that particular revulsion originated somewhere around the age of about eight or nine after seeing a bucket of maggots being given to a horse. It was the fact that they were writhing, a food still moving, that completely offended my senses.

For my Tom to sincerely remind me that our pillage of the lands for the consumption of beef and poultry was not sustainable wasn’t going unheard, I’d just hoped for a ‘prettier’ response. The fact of the matter was thus: my thoughts of insects as a food source are created from my ignorance on the subject, my lack of willingness to taste, my western-diet predicament that is harming the planet.

Not a light subject to touch upon. I knew this debate, I understood it. I have already made strong roads towards removing as much dairy from my diet as possible, preferring the sustainable hemp milk for several years now. The next step is looking at the protein source, and not just protein, but also iron, calcium and many more of the essential elements that make up the human diet. It’s been almost four years that I’ve been dancing with veganism, opting to source vegan protein supplements from pea and cranberry via eco-warrior Arbonne, but for solid foods I would always come back to eggs, liver and bacon. My taste buds dance while my heart cries.

When synchronicities occur, I pay attention. If you’re asking yourself the question—what is a synchronicity?— it’s plainly described as a series of events that have no identifiable causal link, yet are ‘meaningfully related’. Carl Jung was a bit of a guru on this topic, even translating various different definitions of the term. It can be seen as scientific and/or spiritual. I opt for both. For me, synchronicities appear in numbers, a sequence of 1234 or the same times on the clock or repeated birth dates. Their meanings are never obvious, but there is always that underlying feeling of being on the right path, the synchronicity for me is an indicator of such.

Not long after watching that documentary and discussing insect food, I came across Grub.

Grub are a company that have created a trail bar, amongst other food recipes, which is gluten-free (a dietary requirement for my sensitive innards), and which also contains cricket powder. The topic had been opened, the thoughts of such foods sent out into the cosmos, and the ideas had returned with a food option that could potentially help westerners get over their fear of ingesting crawlers, as more than 2 billion of the planet’s current human race do, and start to address their unsustainable farming methods, and food choices.

The option to try these trail bars was put out there by Red Squirrel Run, and I said yes. I had to know what on earth I was avoiding.

I was sent two boxes, two different flavoured bars, both containing cricket powder as the protein source, with the ratio of carbohydrate to protein at 4:1. The carbohydrate element comes from the trail food that we normally associate with bars, being nuts, dates and berries. Basically, if you could go back a million years to your ancestor, who didn’t have the kitchen to squish things neatly into a rectangle and package it with a colourful wrapper, you could probably bet that they were eating the exact same thing.

Nuts, seeds, berries, fruit, and insects.

I gave a sample to my mum, her fear of spiders is legendary. And probably hereditary.

She delighted at it, the cranberry and orange bar really does taste delightfully good. When I told her what else was in it, I narrowly avoided a clip around the ear. But a blind taste was necessary because she would not have been able to remove her foggy lens of prejudice with the full information up front. I knew she wasn’t allergic to shellfish, a consideration to keep in mind, and I just wanted her to see for herself how tainted her opinion is by the western diet and culture. As was mine.

I’ve been using these bars out on the trails, covering between 15-20 miles over four to six hours of all-weather and all-terrain elevations and descents. I’m trialling them to see how well they fair for assisting my diet whilst I’m out training, and so far they’ve fixed hunger gaps whilst carrying light. They aren’t for recovery, though they can be added to assist because recovery also requires carbohydrates.

I haven’t jumped in to trying any of the other recipes just yet, one step at a time, easy does it. But if these bars are a step for westerners to make that transition, to help support their own needs whilst preserving more planet for future humans to live off, then this is definitely worth addressing.

And who knows, perhaps a lot of therapy bills could be reduced by altering our view of insects and where they exist on our food chain, rather than us on theirs.

If you need a bit more information on the topic, there’s plenty of info available. Here’s a link to the Institute of Food Technologists on the reasons we should all be converting to entomophagy 7 Reasons to Eat Insects.

#challenge5alive #eatgrub #findyourepic

I’ll be taking on my five adventure challenges up, down and all around Wales this 2017 in support of YoungMindsUK, and with the support of Grub. Discover more here: Challenge5Alive

To support the fundraising cause you can text EVYM55 to 70070 with your donation pledge. Diolch! Thank you!