A cousin told me a story about
gathering night crawlers in his backyard. He noticed his
neighbors, a family imported from an Asian land, also
gathering the worms in their yard. "Where are you
going fishing?" He asked them.
"Weíre not." Came a
"Then why are you catching night crawlers?"
asked my cousin, now also puzzled.
"To eat them. Why are you
Neither worm hunter quite believed the
otherís reason for catching worms. My cousin knew
worms were excellent for catching delicious fish. His
neighbors knew worms were a good meal in themselves.
After all, they had eaten similar worms in their native
The cousin thought the Asians were
primitive savages, uneducated in what a civilized human should
eat. The Asian neighbors thought he was an ignorant
American without a clue as to what could be
My 9th grade French teacher
claimed a bowl of mashed maggots was among her favorite
dishes. I, and most of the boys in my class, had a crush
on this woman until she made that statement. Years later
I watched people on TV eat all kinds of bugs and worms.
They seemed to enjoy the critters.
Iíve heard of a night-time raid on a
cornfield and the campfire-roasted ears that were eaten
with great relish in the dead of night. Then the
daylight discovery of worm tunnels all through the naked
cobs. "Best-tasting corn I ever had. Must have been
the worms!" commented one of the raiders.
Have I been missing something? Worms,
slugs, bugs and beetles work my
garden harder than I do. I used to
spray poisons, but I gave that up and went organic. For
the last few years Iíve picked the crawlies off my
plants and tossed them to the fish I keep outside.
Should I be eating them instead?
Iíd say the slugs got more out of my
tomatoes than I did the last 3 years. The cabbage
loopers and worms certainly got most of the cabbage and
broccoli! Squash bugs did in the zucchini and flea
beetles seemed to be everywhere.
I once thought to pickle hibiscus
buds. But our hibiscuses were 11" blossoms of
white, pink or red that drew Japanese beetles from
several towns away. Iíd notice the cigar-shaped buds
early in the morning covered with beetles. At noon the
petals were unfurled with cigarette butt-sized holes all
through them. It didnít matter how many beetles I
picked off and killed, no flower went unmarked.
Aphids feed on a variety of flowers
and vegetables. I understand that ants sometimes place
these bugs on plants and watch over them like shepherds.
The ants then feed on a nectar the aphid produces. (Iíd
call the nectar something else, but the editors wouldnít
print it.) Obviously the aphids produce something useful
to the ants. Could it be useful to us?
Do cabbage worms and loopers taste
like cabbage or broccoli? Would rose petal-stuffed
Japanese beetles taste like roses? (I donít care for
rose petals, though my dogs seem to enjoy them.) Could
the crunch of their exoskeletons become the crunch of a
As a child I ate a bowl of homemade
noodle soup that had weevils in it. I ate it because my
dad told me to and he was eating it. The bugs didnít
kill me. But I sometimes wonder if they did something to
Stir-fried cabbage worms? Maybe with
enough bean sprouts to hide them? Couldnít be much
worse than tofu!