David Gracer is an entomophagist, which means he consumes insects for sustenance and flavor. During the last 11 years, he claims he has munched on countless creepy crawlies from 5,000 different species.
Eating bugs may seem disgusting to a lot of people, but mankind has been doing it for most of its existence. The Greeks and the Romans loved them, and many cultures throughout Asia, Africa and the Americas actually raise insects for food or gather them through foraging. It is estimated over half the world’s population regularly feasts on a variety of flying and crawling bugs, and entomophagy experts advocate that they are almost as nutritious as beef, contain considerably less fat and have a low impact on the environment. 47-year-old David Gracer, from Providence, Rhode island has been living on bugs since 2001, while trying to convince others that it’s the sustainable way to go. His basement freezer is constantly packed with over 12,000 insects from 20 different species, but the convinced enthomophagist claims he has eaten over 5,000 kinds of bugs during the last 11 years. He consumes them sautéed, filleted and roasted, and says he is working hard on making insects taste more appealing.
Photo: Fit Fool
Gracer traps creepy crawlies using a net and kills them via a painless freezing method. Then he puts them all in sealed plastic bags or Tupperware boxes and stores them in the freezer. It all started in 2001, when a friend gave him a box of Larvets, flavored meal worm snacks, as a birthday present. He didn’t like the taste but it was enough to get him thinking about the reasons so many people around the world eat bugs on a daily basis. He realized people must have good reason for that, and it couldn’t be because they are all starving and desperate. He started reading up on entomophagy and trying new kinds of insects. He soon became one of the most well-known enthomophagists on the planet. David has been lecturing on the benefits of eating creepy crawlies for years, and was invited on several TV shows, including the Tyra Banks Show and the Colbert Report.
The married father of one says “there is this double standard that people have. Bugs, as long as they’re in the ocean – crabs, shrimp and lobster – are just fine to eat and people can spend quite a bit of money for them. But whereas bugs on the land, suddenly it’s all ewww.” He believes land insects are pretty much the same as marine ones, “so much that anyone who is allergic to shellfish is going to be allergic to insects, it’s the same thing”. Florence Dunkel, an entomologist and editor of The Food Insect Newsletter, believes Westerners’ aversion to insects has a lot to do with the way we grew up. “For most Americans, fear of insects is a social aversion. It’s not rational,” she says. “People in other societies were introduced to bugs at an early age. It’s just not the way we grew up.”
David Gracer and his bug addiction will be featured on the next episode of TLC’s My Crazy Obsession.