Eating insects probably sounds like a crazy food trend to some people. But the reality is that insects have always been a part of the human diet and even today 2 billion people around the world regularly eat insects. What can we do to make insects normal for the rest of us?
Insects remain a traditional food in many cultures across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report (1) roughly 2 billion people regularly eat one or more of the 2000 known species of edible insects.
In Japan aquatic fly larvae are enjoyed sautéed in sugar and soy sauce. In Bali dragonflies boiled in coconut milk with ginger and garlic are considered a delicacy. In New Guinea and aboriginal Australia grubs are savoured. In Latin America cicadas, fire-roasted tarantulas, and ants are prevalent in traditional dishes. In Mexico the agave worm is eaten on tortillas and placed in bottles of mezcal liquor. In Ghana during the spring rains, winged termites are collected and fried, roasted, or made into bread. In China beekeepers regularly eat larvae from their beehives.
Why is insect eating rare in Europe?
After Europe became agrarian, insects were seen as destroyers of crops rather than a source of food. People in the western world were conditioned to dislike insects and prefer other foods. But lobster and sushi are great examples of how society’s opinion can change. Can that happen with insects too?
Add insects to popular foods
Authors of a 2017 study (2) examined how people react to novel foods. They tested three unusual ingredients – lamb brain, frog meat, and mealworms and concluded that incorporating unusual novel foods within a familiar product could help create more positive expectations. We are happy to hear that because that’s exactly what we are trying to do! With your help we are sure to make insects the new normal.
1) FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN), ‘Edible insects – Future prospects for food and feed security’, Rome 2013, http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf
2) Hui Shan GraceTan et al., ‘Why do unusual novel foods like insects lack sensory appeal? Investigating the underlying sensory perceptions’, Food Quality and Preference, 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0950329317300782