Have you ever (consciously) eaten insects?

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Have you ever imagined yourself eating a worm-burger, a grasshopper-taco or an insect-cookie? Probably not. For many people, it is hard to think of insects as a sumptuous source of food. This might change in the future.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the world will have to produce 70 percent more food in order to feed a  projected extra 2.3 billion people in 2050. Current problems on agricultural lands, rising temperatures, decreasing yields, and lack of water, among others, will likely worsen in the near future. There is an increasing need to find new ways of nourishing humanity, ways that are more environmentally friendly,  emit less greenhouse gases (GHG), and are sustainable.

Insects could be a viable solution to many – or all – of these problems, as shown in this TEDx video with Prof. Marcel Dicke. Insects produce much smaller quantities of GHG than conventional livestock; eg, a pig produces between ten and a hundred times as much GHG per kilogram compared with mealworms, and between 8 and 12 times as much ammonia per kilogram of growth compared to crickets. Insects are an environmentally friendly alternative source of protein, minerals and vitamins.

Even though more than 1,000 types of insects are eaten around the world, many western societies are still reluctant to do it; eating insects is still a taboo. I know that it sounds disgusting, nevertheless, it is not such a bad idea: I have personally eaten dried grasshoppers a few times in Mexico City. At the beginning, it was difficult to think that I was chewing insects, but after the first time, it got more and more easy. When I eat grasshoppers now, I even enjoy their taste; they basically taste like chips.
Our future, and the future of our kids, will be defined by our capacity to adopt a new lifestyle and change our paradigms- so bon appetit!

5 thoughts on “Have you ever (consciously) eaten insects?

  1. Do you know how eating insects compares to being vegetarian in terms of nutrition? I’m vegetarian and I seem to get enough protein, so I would advise eating pulses instead of insects if you’re faint-hearted!

  2. This is really interesting, but I can’t help to think that these kind of suggestions rather put people off committing to more sustainable consumption 😉 It might actually do more harm than good. In the same vein as Harrie, I’d like to know how this compares to other, more conventional dietary plans that might be more easily adopted. Do we have to renounce to meat altogether? After all, I think that eating stuff you are used to or taste for food is probably the most important determinant of people’s diets. Bearing in mind how difficult it is to achieve already minor changes in people eating habits, I wonder whether this proposal, however rational it is, is not too radical.

  3. Oaxaca Enchiladas
    About 1000 grasshoppers (the younger the better)
    1/2 cup chili sauce
    pinch of salt
    1 lemon
    1 cup guacamole
    6 tortillas

    Directions: Soak the grasshoppers in clean water for 24 hours. Boil them, then let dry. Fry in a pan with garlic, onion, salt
    and lemon. Roll up in tortillas with chili sauce and guacamole.

  4. It always surprises me how unwilling many people are to be adventurous about food. I won’t eat pork or wheat, but otherwise I’ll try just about anything. Mealie worms – scrumptious! (Are they the ones on the hard-boiled eggs in the photo?) Well, the texture is nice and crunchy, I think the flavour is more from the chili.

    The funny thing is, when I mention I don’t eat pork or wheat a common response is ‘Oh, poor you, such a restricted diet!’

    Do we need to give exotic food familiar names, to make it acceptable? ‘Oaxada enchilados’ is good, no hint there of the number of legs of the protein source. How about a competition not only for recipes but for names – and the up-market menu card blurb to go with them?

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