Having 7,107 islands here in the Philippines leads us to have different norms, mores, folkways and beliefs in life; in short it is not impossible that Filipinos has a different culture at all. So, it is not impossible of having a surprising way of eating foods. But the surprise not just happen on the way Filipinos eat but also on what they eat.
The natural ingredients found in the different part of the country with the surrounding of different bodies of water and with the tropical climate of the country shaped the tasteful cuisine which is also nutritious and tasty as describe of the nutritionist. Filipinos eat a lot of rice, vegetables and fruits that can be found on their own garden o “likod balay” but of course they eat meat; chicken, pork, beef or any other meat of animals including the meat of dog, cat or goat.
Food historian Monica A. Mercado describes Filipino food thus: “Drawing origins from various cultures but displaying regional characteristics, Filipino food was prepared by Malay settlers, spiced by Chinese traders, stewed in 300 years of Spanish rule, and hamburgered by American influence in the Philippine way of life. The multi-racial features of the Filipino – a Chinese-Malayan face, a Spanish name aand American nickname- make up Philippine cuisine, producing dishes of oriental and occidental extraction.” But there is one thing that Monica didn’t mention the extra-ordinary food of the Filipino.
In some part of the Philippines we have this weird-yet-unique food served for all, the insects- according to the Grolier Science Encyclopedia, insects are by far most numerous of all animal species. More than a million species are known, more than all the other animal species added together. Insects are known as dirty, small living creator because, of course, of the way they live; crawling and staying on the dirty part of a certain place this would change our mind of touching it and having a thought of us of eating it would be a “no, no” but some just love eating this food.
I asked my mother if she tried to eat an insects and she forcedly say “yes” with an addition that it taste so good, that would definitely taste good, but when I ask her what kind of insect she said to me with a hilarious laugh “tanga sa bukid”, a cockroach, a dirty living creator whom we all believed a disease carrier and a pest to most of the house; well, we all thought it wrong. The cockroach that lives in the urban area is the cockroach we thought but the cockroach in the rural part, mountain part, are the opposite of it especially that “tanga sa bukid” my mother told me.
In addition there are many edible insects here in the Philippines an example of this is the “salagubang” or the June Beetles which they say it taste good especially when they are sautéed in soy sauce, in fact in Batangas they have this Salagubang Festival where they all cook, eat and enjoy this important pest for them. In fact, insects may represent a preferable protein source compared to meat because they have almost no fat and are packed with protein and other minerals. For example, 100 grams of June beetles have ~13.4 g protein, 6 mg iron, and 22.6 mg calcium while lean ground beef has 27 g of protein, 3.5 mg iron, and no calcium.
Many bugs are also high in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Unlike meat, insects are ingested whole (even when ground as flour). That means you’re eating nutrient-rich exoskeletons and organs along with protein-packed muscle.
Eating insects is good for the environment too. Insects require less feed, less space and a fraction of the water used to raise beef cattle. As UBC Land and Food Systems researcher Yasmin Akhtar: “Crickets require 12 times less feed and 13 times less water than cattle to produce the same amount of edible protein.” Insects also emit far fewer greenhouse gases than livestock do.
Eating insects – a practice called entomophagy – is not new. Insects have been a food source for people for tens of thousands of years. Today, it’s estimated that as many as 1,900 species of insects are considered dietary staples or delicacies by two billion people around the world.
Bug protein by the numbers
The protein content of insects varies by species, by what they feed on (e.g., vegetables, grains or waste) and by their stage of development. Here, a rabble of insects with their grams of protein per 100-gram serving, raw:
Caterpillar: 10 to 28
Crickets: 8 to 25
Grasshopper, adult: 13 to 28
Grasshopper (chapulines, Mexico): 35 to 48
Red ants: 14
Termites: 13 to 28
Yellow mealworm: 14 to 25
Compare that with conventional protein sources:
Beef tenderloin: 22
Chicken breast: 22
Consider this graph above, insects gives us more protein than fats, except of course of the beetles, but this way of eating insects would definitely be the answer for the families that cant afford of having some delicious and healthy food.
Thinking about adding insects to your menu but aren’t sure how to begin? Here are a few suggestions.
- Review the nutritional profile. Even if you’re a hesitant eater, the nutritional value is pretty compelling. Think about where you might blend in cricket or mealworm flour to boost the nutrient power.
- Try starting with the easiest option. Cricket or mealworm flour. It blends into a Super Shake or soup, or can be combined into baked goods such as pancakes or muffins. You don’t have to go full cricket right off the bat.
- Add flavor. Try dark-chocolate-covered insects as a sweet snack, or one of the many flavored varieties available. Or buy a bag of toasted mealworms and experiment with your own flavor combos. (We’re liking garlic and chili).
- Incorporate insects into your favorite dishes. Ground insects are the easiest way to get started. But if you’re more adventurous, try sprinkling mealworms on a salad like croutons.
“close your eyes and eat, imagine that you’re eating chicken or pork. That would work, I assure you.”
Grolier Science Encyclopedia
Philippines by Dorai, Francis, ed,