Skip to content

Can I get a side of maggots with those mushrooms?

Thom talks bugs

Being the companion of a Newfoundland Dog is not for the squeamish. It’s a lot of drool and it’s a lot of hair and I’ve just gotten used to the fact that these things occasionally make their way into my diet.

Of course, I can’t leave something like that alone. It got me thinking about what else we ingest. We’ve all heard that we inadvertently eat insects, but is it possible to quantify how much?

A quick internet search brings up a consensus it’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of one to two pounds per year for the average American. I couldn’t find a Canadian figure, but I’m guessing we would be about the same as Americans.

And our cousins to the south (and in some cases, to the north) are a good comparison because, like them, we generally don’t intentionally eat bugs, whereas, in a lot of other countries around the world, insects are actually on the menu.

It is estimated two billion people eat insects as a regular, intentional part of their diet.

A majority of North Americans even acknowledge insects will likely be an important food of the future, but aren’t quite ready to incorporate them into their diet any time soon.

And yet, we are already eating them and other generally disgusting things. There are those who challenge the one-to-two-pounds theory, but even on the very low end, it’s something like a quarter or third of a pound.

In fact, the Canadian Food inspection agency actually has acceptable limit guidelines for, not just insects and insect parts, but other unpalatable ingredients such as rodent hairs and mould.

Just a couple of examples. There can be up to 25 bug fragments in 100 grams of rice and 200 per 50 grams of ground black pepper.

Whole bugs are also acceptable up to 10 maggots in 100 grams of mushrooms and five mites in a 2.5 centimetre cube of cheese.

One rodent hair is allowed in 225 grams of bakery products, 225 grams of cheese or 1oo grams of chocolate.

Of course, we don’t even know about these things and that might for the best.

Our capacity for living in denial has its advantages sometimes.