I’m currently working my way through a few books I picked up over December, but I can already see that only two of them will be kept for display in my makeshift library.
Both are biographies, but that’s where the similarities end.
The first was written by my favourite director, Kevin Smith, the second by Bear Grylls, famous adventurer and eater of strange things.
Most people know him from his Discovery TV show, Extreme Survival. He gets dropped somewhere in the middle of nowhere and has to make it out of there alive in two days.
Over the years we’ve seen him doing some pretty hectic stuff; drinking his own urine, squishing water from elephant droppings, jumping from the top of various waterfalls into the pools below and sleeping in a hollowed-out camel. But nothing, and I really mean nothing, is as unnerving as watching the man scrounging for food and then putting whatever he finds in his mouth.
I still remember the culinary part of the first episode I watched. Bear had gone at least 24 hours without food and finally came across a piece of dead wood. A normal person would walk right by it, hoping there’d be a KFC on the other side of the forest. But not Bear. He turned that piece of wood over and out crawled a feast of creepies and crawlies.
Without hesitation, he started chomping down on the slower insects that couldn’t escape his eager hands. I sat there fascinated by the fact that he showed absolutely no hesitation before biting down on insects that would have me running for the nearest can of insect repellant.
He only kept on saying that insects are a good source of protein. Later, after a few more episodes, I realised that nature is brimming with loads of edible protein sources. You’d have to chow down at least a thousand termites to get the equivalent of a nice juicy steak, but since termites tend to hang around in packs, it’s not really a big problem.
My question is this: how long would/could you go without food before putting something as disgusting as a termite in your mouth. It’s easy for Grylls, as he’s paid millions to do it, but what about us average, non-televised individuals?
It’s an interesting question that has no standard answer. Me? I think I’d last two days before finally giving in and raiding the nearest piece of dead wood. Insects of South Africa be warned. If my off-road vehicle ever lets me down and I run out of boerewors, I’m coming after you.
There are people who say that television shows like Extreme Survival are irrelevant, because of modern adventure technology and GPS tracking, but it only takes a few unforeseen mishaps (slipping and falling into water) to render said technology as useless as a sliding windows on a submarine.
Personally, I’m thankful for Bear Grylls. He’s been criticised a lot over the last few years for faking some of the scenes in his show (sleeping in hotels instead of his makeshift shelters, etc), but he’s done way more good than harm.
If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t know what to eat if I ever find myself in a tricky situation, and for that I thank you Mr. Grylls.