If you found ants or a beetle on your dinner plate, chances are you’d either flip your plate over or calmly dump it in the trash. But what if bugs became a standard part of the human diet? With the growth of entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, around the world, consumption of bugs may become common enough that you’ll welcome bugs in your breakfast.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) released a comprehensive report in 2013 entitled, “Edible Insects: Future prospects for food and feed security.” In the report, the FAO described in depth everything from the culture, religion, and history of entomophagy to edible insects as a natural resource and source of food, animal feed, environmental protection, and even economic development.
What bugs can be eaten?
With more than 1,900 edible insect species on the planet, you have your choice of bugs to eat, and hundreds are already incorporated in many cultures’ diets around the world. Small grasshoppers are praised as a good source of nutrients, ranked alongside protein sources like lean ground beef but with smaller fat content. Mealworms have recently been made into a tofu-like substance. Insects can also be dehydrated and mashed up into “protein flour,” which can then be put in cereal, energy bars, and other foods.
Even esteemed French culinary school Le Cordon Bleu held an edible insects seminar where bugs were star ingredients in exotic-sounding dishes and beverages, such as ant-infused gin and a cockchafer butter and herb crisp. All the insectes were hidden in the foods, “pureed into batters, their juices extracted for essence,” according to the Associated Press.
But according to biologist Julieta Ramos-Elorduy’s cookbook “Creepy Crawly Cuisine” as referenced in a National Geographic piece, there are eight groups of edible insects most often consumed across the globe:
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