Jury is out on bug snacks

musings from a twice monthly columnist

It’s been said that everybody has an opinion… and I’m sure you know the rest of the saying that follows.

Well, it seems the recent news that Angelina Jolie’s kids eat crickets has resulted in a ton of opinion and Jolie-bashing.

I’ll back up a bit here and explain. Reading news online, both Canadian and U.S. news, is a must-do for me each and every morning.

Today I went to one of my favourite online news sites where I spied an article about Angelina Jolie. I unabashedly admit she, Brad Pitt and their huge brood of varied-coloured children piques my interest. I’m not sure why though. Maybe it’s part voyeur on my part, or maybe it’s a fascination watching a previously troubled young woman blossom into an apparently hands-on mother of six young children.

Whatever the case might be, the story was about Jolie encouraging her children to eat fried crickets. According to Jolie, the purpose behind the exercise was to introduce her adopted son, Maddox, to the cultures of Cambodia, the country of his birth.

“When I first gave it to them, I thought, I wanted them to understand culturally, I didn’t want them to be turned off by something that was their culture,” said Jolie.

They weren’t turned off.

In fact, “They ate them like Doritos and they wouldn’t stop. They brought to-go boxes home and I had to actually ban the cricket eating at a certain point because I was afraid they’d get sick from too many,” Jolie said.

At the bottom of the story is an area where readers can comment.

There were comments from people wondering why she would do such a thing given the crickets are likely loaded with pesticides, to those who worried about what the crickets ate, and what, in the end the children were actually ingesting.

There were some 297 tidbits of hate, misinformation, praise, bigotry and revulsion posted on that page. Everyone has an opinion.

This brings me to the crickets. We all know it’s a societal thing when it comes to eating. Some cultures don’t eat pork; some cultures don’t eat grubs, spiders or other insects.

For many, just the thought of eating grubs causes a huge gag reflex. While we know and understand this is due in large part to the way we were raised, it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow (pun intended).

I know this from first-hand experience. To this day I will never forget the experience I had in third grade. While I don’t recall the teacher’s name, I do clearly recall the situation. We were discussing the differences between cultures when our teacher asked us if we wanted some chocolate covered candy. Naturally, almost every hand went up in unison, signifying our collective wish to gobble the goodies during school time.

Nodding slightly, our teacher proceeded to hand out chocolate covered globs, which we immediately and gleefully consumed, accompanied by our little sounds of gastronomical delight. The whole while, the teacher watched us with interest and it wasn’t until the last bite was swallowed that he proceeded to share the specifics of that delicacy.

That treat, you see, was chocolate covered grasshoppers. We agreed it was one of the best we’d ever had. Had we known what it was it’s unlikely any of us would have even tried a morsel.

And just for the record – they tasted nutty. I would do it again, if I could.