Humans, and almost all living organisms for that matter, are dependent on a few things for their survival. Food is one of the most important factor, including for humans. Although oxygen and water are still more important for human survival, people could not survive living off in the world by themselves, without any need for food. There have been many portrayals of hunger-driven men doing all sorts of things that are not characteristic of ‘normal’ human beings.
What is starvation capable of doing to you?
When we see Tom Hanks stranded on that desert island (in the movie Cast Away) we can’t help but chuckle at his feisty creation of fire, cringe hungrily at his inability to locate anything edible, and empathize with his misfortune. We feel all these emotions, but we can never truly understand the desperation of a person who has not eaten for a long time. It is something that is impossible to feel until you put yourself in the same position of starvation.
There have been many famous stories about what abject hunger has driven men to do. It is able to push human beings to absolute extremes and make them do things they would never even imagine with a well-fed mind. One psychologist, Remco Havermans, who studies appetite at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, says, “When hungry, you will thus probably eat anything as long it is caloric and as long it is recognized as something edible.”
In a study conducted at the University of Wurzburg in Germany, it was demonstrated that when the subjects were food-deprived for a duration of 15 hours, they grabbed the less-desired food, even when they knew that if they could hold on for a little longer, they would get their favorite meal.
The Science Behind This
After a duration of 15 hours, which is a long time to go without food, blood glucose levels drop significantly. Now, this dip in the glucose levels may trigger various changes in the brain that cause it to alter its preferences. This means that after not having food for 15 hours, your brain starts to think, “Oh! That’s a sweet looking bitter-gourd. I’ll happily take a big bite of that!”
What do you know? You like bitter-gourd and you didn’t even know it! Wait a few more hours and you may like many other previously unappetizing things.
What Does This Have to Do With Insects?
Given the title of this article, you’re probably thinking, “All right! So where do the bugs come into this picture?”
When faced with dire situations, humans have been found to consume things that are quite inedible by natural standards, including shoe leather, wallets, the larvae of insects and even human flesh in particularly extreme situations.
When faced with an extreme situation, one in which you do not have any access to ‘conventional’ edible goods, then insects can prove to be your best chance of survival. When not provided with any food, your body demands proteins. Fortunately, insects have plenty. However, to make up the average protein intake for a single day, you might have to eat hundreds of bugs to keep up, but those creepy crawlies can save your life.
Strange, But Good!
Researchers have said that despite their disgusting appearance, certain insects actually taste quite good. In other words, there’s no reason to think of an insect as foul-tasting just because of how it looks. In fact, people regularly eat insects in some parts of the world. Also, a cooked bug will always taste better than a raw one.
Sounds quite disgusting, right? Don’t be so quick to judge…
Trust me, you’ll be singing a different tune once you’re in a situation where there is no vegetation in sight for miles, you haven’t eaten for 2 days, and you’re surrounded by some plump, delicious-looking cockroaches. Bon appetit!
- Edible Insects – University of California, riverside Center for Invasive Species Research
- Edible Insects Future Prospects for Food & Feed Security
- Are Insects Edible? – Wonderopolis