Insects are a culinary delicacy around the world, but will we bite?
By: Judi Stuart
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
You will not believe this; I didn’t. On Amazon, you can find new mealtime delights like Fluker’s Gourmet Canned Crickets, Ultimate Insect and Bug Candy, Larvets (BBQ), Edible Pupae, and Crickettes in sour cream and onion and bacon and cheese flavors. They can be delivered right to your doorstep for your pleasure.
Often, when I am enjoying a dinner of shrimp which is one of my favorite foods, Hubby says, “You know that you’re eating bugs.” Of course, he’s kidding, and he knows better, but they do resemble bugs so I always wonder a little. Some people even refer to them as the “cockroaches of the sea.”
People of western European decent who now inhabit places all over the earth are generally not too keen on eating bugs. In Asia, China, Africa, South America, and many other areas, insects are a daily part of the diet and are often considered a delicacy. Two billion people consume insects as part of their diets.
Early Europeans were farmers who quickly recognized that insects were fierce enemies of the crops they tried to raise. Killing the creatures was their goal, not eating them. Our innate belief is that we should not eat anything that our mothers did not feed us. To go against that belief is a giant leap for most people.
Entomophagy is the practice of eating bugs for their nutritional value. Insects are a readily available, natural source of carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, omega-3s, and vitamins. As the world population approaches eight billion people, scientists say that there will be little choice but to use insects to stop starvation.
The United Nations is promoting a campaign to make this cultural shift happen. The International Society of Sports Nutrition is enthusiastic about the use of insect protein products to enrich the food of athletes. Bodybuilders are often on the leading edge of progressive nutritional trends, and if people see them consuming insect protein supplements, the tide might turn.
One way to assist people in rising above the disgust factor is to make them believe that the food has a high status by labeling it a delicacy and charging more for it. Lobster was once plentiful along the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada, but it was considered a poor man’s food. Today lobsters are the most expensive item on the menu.
Pound for pound insects have a greater concentration of life sustaining protein and other nutrients than chicken, pork, or beef. Insects also contain less saturated fat and their production is more environmentally friendly than other meats.
What if you are stuck on an island and the only food includes bugs? Which ones would you choose? It is best to avoid the brightly colored ones, but there will be plenty to select from since there are fifteen orders of edible insects. They include lice, grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, bees, ants, flies, mosquitoes, dragonflies, and termites.
Get your frying pan out and give them a try!