QUAERITUR: Can I eat insect parts on Fridays?

Since the topic came up elsewhere, I thought it a good idea to revive this question from a reader and repost it:

From a reader:

Do insect products count as meat products, and therefore prohibited on Fridays and other days of abstinence. I have heard of some instances where it may be used in artificial color products. Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Yes, Mr. Reinfield, they are not counted as meat products.  You may eat all the bugs you can find, also on Fridays!

Even on days of fasting you should be able to eat lots of insects, since it takes quite a few to make even a small portion… depending on the insects, of course.

Some dyes were/are derived from bugs, such as cochineal.  Muslims, I believe, avoid it because of its origins but Jews allow it.

Artificial food color, however, would be accidental to any food you would eat.  It is an incidental element.

On the other hand, FD&C Red #5 has ever been one of my favorite ingredients in prepared foods, and so in penitential spirit I give those up for Lent.

So, now that people know we can eat bugs as we please, I expect to hear that you are asking for bug-out bags, not doggy-bags.

And, yes, we should be preparing bug-out bags and bugs might just keep some of us alive at TEOTWAWKI.

Appropriate on the very day a big asteriod is buzzing your planet. HERE.  (As I write, in just a few minutes, as a matter of fact. 19:24 UTC (2:24 p.m. EST/11:24 a.m. PST.  And let’s not even start in on Russia!)

Which, as Preserved Killick would add, I am reminded by a scene in Patrick O’Brian’s The Fortune of War in which the Captain and officers have a little fun with Dr. Maturin.

“Two weevils crept from the crumbs. ‘You see those weevils, Stephen?’ said Jack solemnly.

I do.’

Which would you choose?’

There is not a scrap of difference. Arcades ambo. They are the same species of curculio, and there is nothing to choose between them.’

But suppose you had to choose?’

Then I should choose the right-hand weevil; it has a perceptible advantage in both length and breadth.’

There I have you,’ cried Jack. ‘You are bit – you are completely dished. Don’t you know that in the Navy you must always choose the lesser of two weevils? Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Did you have a chance to see my comment on french-fried grasshoppers and worms? If I have to in the future, I suppose I would eat a weevil, or even a nasty, creepy, crawly orange thingie…a maggot. Who knows……..

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I am sure garlic would help………

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Cricket fried rice from The Guardian

    Serves four to six.

    2 large eggs
    1 tsp kosher salt
    Powdered ginger, to taste
    Powdered coriander, to taste
    Garlic powder, to taste
    1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
    4 tbsp oil for stir-frying, or as needed
    1kg cold cooked brown rice
    180g roasted crickets (about 3–4 dozen)
    150g chopped spring onions
    1½ tbsp light soy sauce or oyster sauce, as desired
    125g cooked corn kernels

    Lightly beat the eggs with the salt, ginger, coriander, garlic powder and pepper.

    Heat a wok or frying pan and add two tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture and cook, stirring, until lightly scrambled but not too dry. Remove the eggs and wipe clean the wok or frying pan.

    Add two tablespoons of oil. Add the rice and stir-fry for a few minutes, using a wooden spoon to break it apart. Add the crickets and onions, and stir in soy or oyster sauce as desired. Continue stir-frying for a few more minutes. When the rice is heated through, return the egg to the pan, mix and stir in corn kernels. Serve hot.

  4. The Masked Chicken says:

    Fr. Z.,

    That last bit was hilarious!

    The Chicken

  5. The Masked Chicken says:

    I’ve been thinking about a bug-out bag. Unfortunately, all of the things I think I need to take (radio, binoculars, screwdrivers, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, first-aid kit, etc.) would make it very unmanageable. Is there a list, somewhere of what would be useful?

    The Chicken (one minute to meteor fly-by)

  6. Supertradmum says:

    The Chicken, Military Chocolate

  7. fvhale says:

    I confess that in years past I feasted on the Friday’s of Lent on raw fish (sushi), seaweed, tofu, really good rice, and expensive sake, running up bills at sushi restaurants that I am now absolutely ashamed about. I loved Lent, because it justified going to my favorite sushi restaurant every Friday! All in keeping the letter rather than the spirit.

    There is no end to expensive exotic foods that can be eaten on the Friday’s of Lent, such as “bird nest soup” (basically a bowl of bird mucous in broth–exquisite!). Roasted eel (oh, how yummy!). Cheeses that sell for $50/pound washed down with $200/bottle beverages.

    Yes, all follow the laws about no meat on Fridays.

    And completely miss the point.

    I look forward to bread and soup today.

    “The sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember. According to thy mercy remember thou me: for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.” (Ps 24,7)

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    For me, it’s not the cost or even the enjoyment as I am not a big meat eater, nor am I a gourmet. I am a bit absent-minded and put many things like eating on auto-pilot to think about more interesting things. For me, the penance is remembering to abstain.

  9. Matt R says:

    That is the best scene in the movie adaptation of the Master and Commander series.
    I love it!

  10. HyacinthClare says:

    Masked Chicken, are you asking about a “bug out bag” in the same thread when everybody else is talking about EATING “bugs”?? You’re hilarious yourself today!

  11. fvhale says:

    “Nearly half of a chicken’s natural diet is bugs ” (from a man who knows chickens).

  12. Stumbler but trying says:

    The only insect I ever ate was a worm that dwelled deep into the bottle of some fine Mexican Tequila…it was crunchy and saturated with the tequila. Not sure I can handle it during Lent. ^^
    Creepy crawlers as possible Lenten sustenance somehow do not appeal to me…I will stick with bread and water. God bless those of you will be be more adventurous though!

  13. Supertradmum says:

    fvhale, I love sushi, but it is so expensive here, it is a luxury item. I miss living in Alaska, where we ate sushi like eating a McDonald’s.

  14. mamajen says:

    Abstinence and penance in one meal!

  15. New Sister says:

    Amphibians are OK, too. [a garlicy plate of fresh frog legs is so yuuummy!!]

  16. Gail F says:

    The Jack Aubrey bit made my day.

  17. fvhale says:

    Let not the day pass without escargot, the original “slow food.”
    Slug Fritters are a great dessert, too!

  18. Charlotte Allen says:

    Hmm, the nuns at my pre-Vat2 parochial school said no frog’s legs on Friday. They’re meat, not fish. And those nuns were always right. My Friday preference is lobster.

  19. Elizabeth M says:

    Our priest must have been asked this question one too many times. One year I remember he began his first Lenten sermon with “Turtles, frogs, and lizards are not ‘meat’. It might be good penance to add these to your weekly menu.” I think we Americans quickly forget how many other cultures embrace eating insects.

  20. Charlotte Allen says:

    But frog’s legs are a delicacy! And turtle soup used to be one, too–before turtles became endangered. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a gourmand if there ever was one, used to entertain White House dinner guests with turtle soup followed by pheasant–all accompanied by many wines.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    What’s worse than eating a whole catalpa worm? Eating half a catalpa worm like I did one day while climbing a catalpa tree with my mouth open. Never again. Remember, when you climb, always keep your mouth closed. (Catalpa worms are big, green, puffy and way, way too juicy.)

    About red food coloring, chemists have a horrible time creating a true artificial red that isn’t somewhat carcinogenic. Quite possibly there’s no such thing. So what really happens is that they put the safest they can find on the market, and then the FDA makes them remove it after a couple of years, and so they put the next one in line which also is not-so-safe on the market and so on ad infinitum. That’s why the ones you see change every few years. Bug red (cochineal) is a much better alternative, much safer, not made from petroleum products. Think about that when you eat naturally dyed red food. You’ll like it a lot better.

  22. Margaret says:

    I feel so boring- we had salmon.

    But perhaps if I put the children to work in the garden this week we could collect a meal’s worth of snails… Eeew. :)

  23. Margaret says:

    I feel so boring- we had salmon.

    But perhaps if I put the children to work in the garden this week we could collect a meal’s worth of snails… Eeew.

  24. Widukind says:

    The reason why we do not eat meat on Fridays is not because of the cost of the fish, frog legs, etc., nor is it because it might seem unbearable to swallow something that slithers. It is simply to honor the Most Precious Blood. In centuries past, to eat meat meant that one had to slaughter an animal, and so shed blood. The blood of mammals and birds is definitely red and it is warm. Generally the blood of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects is minimally red and is cold. The Precious Blood that Jesus shed is red and it is warm. As Fridays honor the crucifixion of Jesus – His passion in which He shed His Precious Blood – it would seem inappropriate to shed blood, especially that which is red and warm, on the same day. Any and all blood pales before the Precious Blood. It is the only Blood that saves. Thus, because of the efficacy of Jesus’ blood, because of its singular power to bring salvation, the shedding of red and warm blood on Fridays seemed inappropriate and detractive of Jesus’ blood. Abstaining from shedding blood, led to abstaining from meat. No slaughter, no meat. Simply put, we abstain from meat to give honor to the Precious Blood of Jesus, the only blood that has the power to save and give life.

  25. Dr. Eric says:

    The Archbishop of New Orleans answered a question recently and the letter has made its way around the internet. Alligator is considered “fish.” That’s good, because it’s the only sea critter that I can choke down without gagging.

  26. tioedong says:

    YUM! Cricket Adobo coming up link

  27. VLL says:

    Ok… I heard a story about a Catholic ruling in High School that needs fact-checking. After all, I went to public school.

    It states: at some point in the early middle ages, someone came to the Pope about a concern that peasants were eating rats during Lent. The Pope waved his hand and suggested that eating rats was penance enough, and therefore it was licit. He then asked his (German? Austrian?) bishops to stop arguing about it.

    The rumor indicated that the arch-bishop in Michigan who cleared musk-rat during lent was merely quoting this pope. That letter is worth a few chuckles in a similar form of the alligator letter. Said rumor also suggested that the capybara decision was based on the same papal decision of long ago. It was a meme in Michigan when the arch-bishop’s letter was posted. Despite some tantalizing details, I have no date or name, unfortunately, so I still find it suspect. Fr Z? Dr. Peters? Bueller? Anyone?

  28. RichardT says:

    Bugs must be fine; John the Baptist lived off locusts in the desert.

    But my ossified manualist abstinence question (which I’ve asked before but not seen an answer to) is about time. If I’m up late on Thursday evening, after midnight, and want a snack, is it still Thursday or is it Friday? And the same if I’m up late on Friday; does abstinence end at midnight or not until I’ve gone to bed and woken up the next morning?

    My gut feeling is that it should go by which day I woke up, so it seems acceptable to eat a ham sandwich at 1am on Friday because, to me, it’s still Thursday night. Similarly it would feel wrong to have the ham sandwich on Friday night even if, by the clock, it was actually Saturday. But what does the Church say?

    And I wonder what Stephen Maturin would have done, with the ship’s day starting at noon?

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