Recession Survivor: Would You Eat Bugs and Roadkill to Cut the Grocery Bill?

by Carrie Kirby on 4 November 2011 4 comments

I try to be flexible with my family menu in order to save on groceries, but recently I learned about a couple guys who are waaay more flexible than I am when it comes to ingredient choices. They eat bugs and roadkill. And they have recipes to share. (See also: 25 Frugal Food Changes You Can Make Today)

Jonathan McGowan, of Dorset in England, says he has been eating roadkill and other dead animals he finds for the past 30 years. At first blush that sounds disgusting and possibly even deranged, but Jonathan makes a very good point when he compares eating a recently-killed woodland animal to eating a chicken from one factory farm he visited. McGowan told the Daily Mail:

There was a broiler production unit close to where I was living where there was always three layers of chickens — a dead, rotting layer at the bottom, a squashed layer in the middle and a layer at the top where they could barely move.

If you think you'll join McGowan in his culinary adventures, however, keep in mind that he feels that only someone with years of experience with wildlife can do this safely:

It's not something everyone can do. I have grown up around nature and know just by looking how an animal has died and how long it has been there.

I grew up in Wisconsin and have heard of plenty of people legally taking home deer that they struck with their own cars. So it didn't freak me out too much to hear that McGowan enjoys venison. However, some of his other favorites raised even my eyebrows. He calls both fox and rat "most delicious," and has even eaten wildcats and birds of prey.

I wonder if McGowan knows that you are supposed to report it to authorities — even in England — if you find certain kinds of birds dead, so they can be checked for bird flu. He also mentions eating birds of prey, the majority of which are considered endangered over there. He doesn't kill these animals, mind you — just finds them, butchers, and cooks 'em up.

McGowan will even throw some bugs into his stir fry, which brings to mind another fellow I read about recently.

University of Chicago undergrad Matthew Krisiloff is not just eating insects but wants to put bug burgers in your grocer's freezer case. After all, he told Time Out Chicago, insects can provide protein just like chickens or cows, but without putting so much strain on the environment or costing so much. One really interesting thing about Krisiloff's company, Entom Foods, is that he wants insect protein to succeed first in the West, in order to set a good example for the rest of the globe, where people tend to copy our diets as they get wealthier.

As Krisiloff told Time Out Chicago:

In about 80 percent of the countries in the world, there are communities that do eat insects in some fashion. But as countries Westernize, they kind of shun those diets.… They look at Western examples and think, Oh, [they] eat hamburger, [they] eat chicken, that's what [we] should be doing as well.

Well, carnivores, what do you think? Would you buy bug burgers or rake in some road kill in order to cut your grocery bill? After all, meat is often the biggest expense at the supermarket. Or are these ideas enough to turn the most dedicated meat-eater into a vegan?

Tips for Eating Roadkill and Bugs

If you really want to try it, here is McGowan's recipe for roadkill Badger, from the Daily Mail:

Serves: 4

1. Skin one badger and cut into pieces before browning in a frying pan with butter until pieces are golden and stiff.

2. Flambee with glass of Armagnac and pour over one bottle of dry, sparkling wine, then simmer gently for two hours.

3. Mix cooked, chopped badger liver, a glass of pig's blood, two egg yolks and a pot of creme fraiche and serve immediately.

Serve with mushrooms or chestnuts.

A New York Times blog has tips on cooking mealworms, moth larvae and crickets.

To learn more about harvesting and eating insects, check out the book Man Eating Bugs by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio.

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Guest's picture
PKamp3

Haha - awesome. There is always someone more frugal than you. Chocolate covered ants? Maybe. Insert burgers? It will take me a while to take a bite of that one. Thanks for sharing.

Andrea Karim's picture

Grasshoppers, certainly. But I'm pretty sure that the insect in the photo is a cicada. I haven't ever tried one, but I would probably eat one just out of spite.

Guest's picture

Uhhh. No way. I'm scared of insects with their suspicious looking antennae and big googly eyes even when they're dead. I watched an episode of Man vs Wild, and the guy ate a fat worm. When he bit into it, the juices flew all over and he looked as though he was about to die from the yuckiness.

Guest's picture
Carla

Umm...gross. Coming from someone who eats local & organic meat only, I'd go "veggie" before I ate road kill. Bugs are just bugs... I guess if I was starving, I don't think that's such a big deal, but road kill? Ugh! :/