Bugs, Food Or Not?
For centuries bugs were loved by people around the world. What happened?
The practice of eating for bugs is known as Entomophagy and throughout history has been a completely normal practice.
From the Ancient Greeks to the Romans, bugs were luxury snacks that provided a great source of nutrition for communities. So when did we start dry heaving at the sight of a crispy cricket on our plates?
Around 10,000 BC agricultural practices began increasing in popularity and our nomadic ancestors started to become more versed in the growing of crops.
This is when we cultivated the farming practices we know today – and all of a sudden bugs transitioned from snack to pest.
Today you wouldn’t really here the term Entomophagy being thrown around, instead we’d here about bug bites, infestations, swarms and stings.
This is the case for more westernised countries who lack a connection with their foraging history.
However, in regions like the tropics bugs are still widely acceptable and have gone on to feed over 2 billion people.
This is because the bug species in these areas are larger, more energy dense and tend to come together in large harvestable numbers.
For example, in Cambodia giant tarantulas are farmed, fried like chips and sold as a crispy snack. In Mexico, crickets are toasted with fragrant garlic, zesty lemon and salt.
But bugs don’t always have to be eaten whole. To overcome the “yuck” factor, many companies have decided to grind up bugs into high protein, high fibre, mineral rich flours.
Imagine a high protein pizza made with cricket flour. You can’t visibly see the crickets and that could mask the gross factor to make it more socially acceptable.
Many industry professionals believe this source of food could be a completely sustainable and viable way to boost the food security of third world nations.
Additionally, because bugs contain more mineral iron than beef this could also be a solution to anemia, one of the world most common nutritional deficiencies.
Perhaps one of the biggest driving factors for reintegrating bugs into our society is the low carbon footprint they leave.
In comparison to animal agriculture such as the production of beef, insects have far less green house gas emissions, use less space, water and food.
So what now? Should I eat the snails in my backyard? Probably not. But you could start testing out small businesses like the Edible Bug Shop by entomologist Skye Blackburn.
Skye serves anything from delicious ant candy and nutritious cricket flours to roasted meal worms and cricket marshmallows. By supporting small brands like hers we can boost the sustainable insect industry, one feeler at a time.