Respect For Insects In Human Food

The old joke that begins “waiter, there is a fly in my soup” was already stale. Now it is long past its sell-by date. We have been selling this protein bar, made in Costa Rica, for long enough now to say without reservation: insects are not repellant. These bars compete alongside dozens of other snack products we offer, and have become a surprise best-seller.

I had expected occasional curiosity-driven sales, but instead they have outsold more established protein bar brands and other snack options. Insects have already earned more respect as a food source than I had imagined. Thanks to the Guardian for this partial explanation of the phenomenon, and its potential:

A bug’s life: inspecting the produce at Ÿnsect’s lab. Photograph: Reuters

If we want to save the planet, the future of food is insects

Fried crickets on the school menu, milk made from fly larvae and mealworm bolognese for dinner? These are the environmentally friendly meals we can look forward to. Bon appetit!

My first attempts at feeding insects to friends and family did not go down well. “What the hell is wrong with you?” asked my wife when I revealed that the tomato and oregano-flavoured cracker bites we had been munching with our G&Ts were made from crickets. “Hang on, I’m vegetarian!” cried our friend – which prompted a slightly testy discussion on whether insects count as meat, how many thousand arthropods equate to one mammal and considering almost all industrial agriculture involves the mass slaughter of insects, what’s the difference?

I then tried some Crunchy Critters dried mealworms on my seven-year-old. “It doesn’t taste of much,” he said. His friend wasn’t wild about his grasshoppers either. “The legs are weird.” But connoisseurs insist that dried specimens from a packet simply cannot compare to free-range, seasonal arthropods roasted in their own oils. “The fresh ones are much tastier, of course,” says Dr Monica Ayieko, senior insect researcher from the western region of Kenya – and one of an estimated two billion people who regularly eat insects. “I love the smell of roasting lake flies or crickets. It’s a nice savoury smell. This is one thing we pride ourselves on in Africa – we always eat fresh food.”

The only unqualified success I had was with my nine-month-old, who seemed almost as keen on desiccated buffalo worms as he is on, well, just about anything he can shove into his mouth. And that’s just as well. If the evangelists for eating insects are to be believed, orthoptera, larvae and any number of the 900+ edible species of insects could form a regular part of his future diet. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has urged that we all make more of this “underutilised” resource. And given the issues of food supply sustainability, it may not be a question of choice…

Read the whole article here.

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