This is no joke. In an effort to combat global warming, pollution, and world hunger, the United Nations (UN) is urging people to eat more insects. In 2013, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization released an official statement, which advised people to try at least some of the 2,000 species of edible insects found around the world.
Just how appetizing an insect appears is directly related to a person’s culture. If insects make your skin crawl, then chances are you grew up in an environment where eating insects is uncommon. On the other hand, if insects make you go “yum,” then the opposite is obviously the case. With so many species on the menu, we’ve compiled a list of more palatable options – the lesser of two weevils, so to speak.
Menu Item No. 1: Grasshoppers. Because they’re so readily available and easy to catch, grasshoppers are definitely one of the most consumed species of insect. While the values may vary, these bugs are generally a great source of protein. Mexico’s chapulines, for example, have almost 80% protein content. Moreover, they are said to have a very neutral flavor, which makes them a great accompaniment for other dishes, such as guacamole and tortillas. Locusts and crickets, which are related to the grasshopper, are also widely consumed in other countries.
Menu Item No. 2: Palm Grubs. Considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia, the Americas, and tropical Africa, these insects are the soft-bodied larvae of certain beetles, specifically palm weevils. They may be roasted, fried, or even eaten raw. The grubs are said to be creamy when raw and sweet when cooked. They also have large concentrations of fat, typically up to 70% of their total body weight. Because of this energy-dense macronutrient, palms grubs are considered one of the best energy-providing insects – nature’s wriggly energy bars. What’s even better is the fact that palm grubs normally have large amounts of unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, both of which are very good for the human body.
Menu Item No. 3: Mealworms. If you’re a bird owner, chances are you’re already familiar with mealworms. These insects are mainly interesting because of their potential for mass-production. They are fairly common in Europe and other areas with a temperate climate. Mealworms are already mass-produced for the pet food industry. However, companies in the Netherlands have begun modifying their facilities to produce these insects for human consumption. While their nutritional content is comparable to that of beef, the ecological footprint left by their mass-production facilities is very much less. They also require less water and land, and produce lesser greenhouse gases. In terms of their taste and texture, mealworms have also shown promise. Preliminary experiments have suggested that processed foods containing mealworms are generally well-received by western consumers.
Packed with protein, fat, fiber, and other minerals and nutrients, it’s hard to find a reason not to try insects. With that said, we sincerely wish you good luck and hope you find the creepy crawly cuisine that suits you best!