If you thought that insects were just for eating and not for a delicacy, you would be wrong. The truth is that there are many types of insects that people can cook up and consume as food. The most common types are ants, crickets, locusts and grasshoppers, which are part of the insect family. These bugs are considered a delicacy in some countries.

People have been eating bugs since long before we had cooking pots. In fact, many of the earliest cultures that inhabited the Earth had no cookers and no utensils at all, much less a kitchen. As such, they subsisted entirely on raw materials like plants, seeds, and grubs. In the past, our diets relied mainly on fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, herbs, and roots. While it is true that we can get all the nutrients we need from these foods, there are some that we can not.

Are there foods that you’ve never had the chance to try because they were a bit too bizarre? Could you imagine the taste of insects? If you have ever heard of insects as food, you’ll be interested in this article.. Read more about insects good source of protein and let us know what you think.

Do you think it’s disgusting to eat bugs? Reconsider your position. Entomophagy is being embraced by a new breed of chefs, farmers, sustainability experts, and adventure foodies (insect-eating). Fitness buffs may be the next demographic to get on the buggy train. Krista Scott-Dixon investigates the reasons behind this.

[Note: this article is also available to listen to as an audio recording.] So, if you’d like to hear the piece, go here.]

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Mmmm. Coconut frosting on banana bread.

Banana Bread with Cricket Flour

Doesn’t that look delicious?

Yes, it is! What’s more, it’s made from cricket flour.

Do you want the recipe? Simply scroll down to the bottom of this page to find out more.

Check out the remainder of the article while you’re here. It may make you reconsider eating insects.

Girl encounters a glitch

My hand is cradled by a jewel-toned caterpillar. His (hers? its?) little feet prick my flesh like tiny hairs. In my palm, I stroke the peristaltic turquoise tube. Its stomach is covered with tiny figure-8 patterns. It’s as soft as a baby’s bottom.

Not at all what I had anticipated.

I take a bite out of a roasted hornworm. It reminds me of a pig rind. Then I toss a chocolate-coated cricket into the mix. This is much too delicious to be healthy.

Not at all what I had anticipated.

Indeed, as the banana bread picture above shows, “Not what you’d anticipate” might nearly be the slogan for eating insects. Because it’s not as revolting as you would believe.

Aside from the “ew” aspect,

When you ask most North Americans how they feel about eating bugs, they always say the same thing: yuck!

We Western Anglos like our protein to be packed nicely. Nothing nasty, just something plastic. There’s nothing to suggest this protein originated from a human body.

We prefer pale chicken breasts over livers or hearts with a musky, iron-scented aroma. We’d rather eat burgers and steaks with perfectly cut edges than tendons and guts.

Dessert-flavored protein powder and bars make us feel good. We use a carton to create egg white omelets (eggs originate from a chicken’s butt? Gross!) And nuggets and hot dogs, oh, how we like them.

Nonetheless, we’re the oddballs throughout the globe.

Edible insects are as ubiquitous in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia markets as pretzels are in New York City.

Entomophagy (from the Greek entomon, or insect, and phagein, or to eat) isn’t exactly a novelty, given that insects first appeared around 400 million years ago — roughly 398 million years before modern humans, give or take a few million years — and that humans eat nearly 2000 different types of bugs out of the 950,000 or so known.

Nonetheless. Ew.

So, how do you get hesitant eaters to join the party?

Simple: by demonstrating that bugs are both healthy and tasty.

Plus, it’s a food supply that’s both sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Edible Bugs and Insects -

Nutritional needs of insects

Lean protein is something that health-conscious individuals and athletes are constantly on the lookout for. Menus are being scanned. Powder is being poured into shakes. Labels must be read.

What if there was a protein source that was easy, shelf-stable, and portable while still being “actual food”?

You’ve got jerky, then. Tuna in a can. And that’s about it.

Jarrod Goldin intends to alter that, along with his brothers Ryan and Darren. They operate Next Millennium Farms, which I’m visiting in Toronto.

Jarrod gives me a foil bag of mealworms while I let a hawkmoth land on me. They’re clearly made of actual food. They resemble mealworms, after all. It’s all there.

I grab a bunch and shove it into my lips with gusto. It’s similar to Rice Krispies, but with a roastier flavor. Delicious.

I try not to vomit mealworm crumbs as I add, “These would be nice with some garlic salt.”

“You can spread them over a salad like croutons,” Jarrod adds. You might, for example, sprinkle them on top of your chicken breast instead.”

I’m already reaching back inside my bag. I can see myself devouring a container of these while watching TV.

Instead of leaving me with zero nutrition (and perhaps negative nutrition due to the health risks it poses), a bag of mealworms provides me with protein, fiber, fatty acids, and minerals.

The typical bug has approximately half of its dry weight in protein, with certain insects (such as locusts) containing up to 75 percent.

This implies insects are similar to other animal protein sources, but without many of the nutritional issues that factory-farmed animals suffer from (such as overuse of antibiotics, hormones, and grain feed).

Nutritional Table

Bugs in the kitchen

Of course, even if you believe that the nutritional characteristics are better, you must ask the obvious question:

What’s the flavor of this?

Damn excellent, in my view.

I experimented with their cricket and mealworm flours before visiting Next Millennium to observe their operations, which are essentially entire insects crushed into a fine powder, similar to buggy talcum.

The flours have a toast crust flavor, as if a well-done piece of bread has been powderized. They have a roasted, nutty taste.

Cricket cakes and pastries are my specialty. My Super Shakes include mealworm powder. After a while, I simply scoop the food out and eat it plain. I believe I’ve been addicted.

For whatever reason, many people believe that eating bugs entails eating them uncooked and writhing, as Gollum would say. Like on Fear Factor, “put your open-mouthed head into a tank of live crawling cockroaches.”

“And how do you consume chickens, exactly?” is my answer. Do you stick your head into a henhouse and start chewing at random?”

Obviously not.

In case you were wondering, while “I ate a live ___” is the stuff of travel adventure tales, insects raised for food in North America are mercifully killed before being turned into food, such as by roasting.

That means by the time they get to you, they’re dead, fried, and perhaps powdered. Fear Factor is as low as a shrimp cocktail.

Insects and religious dietary restrictions

Observant Jews are allowed to consume some kinds of insects according to kosher dietary regulations.

To you, all flying insects that move on all fours are repulsive. There are, however, certain flying animals that walk on all fours and have jointed legs for hopping on the ground that you may eat. You may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket, or grasshopper from this list. All other flying animals with four legs, on the other hand, you must despise.

–Leviticus 11:1–4

Islamic scholars disagree on whether insects are technically halal (allowed) or haram (forbidden) (forbidden). A few kinds of insects may be halal, according to certain authors, and insects that inadvertently make their way into meals (such as the classic fly in one’s soup) are usually granted a pass. Most insects, on the other hand, are deemed haram by Muslims.

Adding flavor to bugs

Innovative celebrity chefs are beginning to dabble with insectivory.

Vij’s, a popular Vancouver Indian restaurant, added cricket flour paratha to its menu in 2008. Chef Nathan Isberg of The Atlantic in Toronto serves insect food on a daily basis, while El Catrin’s Olivier de Calvez serves a cricket taco. Peter Gorton, a Michelin-starred British chef, has created a multi-course bug feast that includes mealworm and mushroom soup.

Fitness eaters are also looking at their choices. Exo and Chapul, for example, both create bug-based bars. (Coach Ryan Andrews smuggles into Canada a Chapul chocolate cayenne espresso bar for me.) It’s delicious.)

We wanted to explore what we could accomplish with bugs since we’re not ones to back down from a challenge. So we enlisted the help of our resident food photographer, Jay Grenci, to come up with a few suggestions.

Two of his favorites are listed here.

Banana Bread with Crickets and Coconut Icing

  • 4 bananas, medium ripe
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 CUP COCONUT SUCCE
  • 12 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cup flour made from crickets
  • 1 34 cup wheat flour (whole grain)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 12 handfuls walnut halves

Icing (optional)

  • 1 coconut cream can (398mL)
  • 12 tbsp honey, runny

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit on the regular bake setting (not convection) (175 C).

Grease a loaf pan and set aside. Then, to cover the surface, sprinkle it with flour. (This keeps the banana bread from staying together.) A silicone or nonstick loaf pan may also be used.)

Combine bananas, eggs, sugar, and olive oil in an electric mixer bowl. For approximately 45 seconds, mix thoroughly on medium speed.

Combine the cricket flour, whole grain wheat flour, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. For approximately 15 seconds, mix everything together on low speed.

Turn off the mixer and scrape along the edges of the bowl with a rubber spatula to remove any remaining flour. For a minute or two, beat the batter on medium speed. By hand, using the spatula, fold in the walnut bits.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 1 hour in a preheated oven.

Poke a toothpick or a clean knife into the middle of the loaf to see whether it’s done. The bread is done when the knife comes out clean.

Allow it to cool until it can be handled easily before removing it from the pan.

Whip coconut cream with honey to create the optional frosting. After that, spread it all over the bread.

Serve by cutting into slices.

healthy-banana-bread-cricket-flour

Cookies made with spiced cricket flour

Adapted from a dish from Next Millennium Farms. Makes about 24 cookies

  • 12 cup flour made from crickets
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • 1 1/3 cup organic unbleached general all-purpose flour
  • 34 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 34 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 12 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tblsp baking soda
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • a third of a cup of soft butter
  • 12 cup honey, runny
  • 14 cup brown sugar, old fashioned (or coconut sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon of orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit on the regular bake setting (not convection) (175 C).

Combine cricket flour, almond meal, all-purpose flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, and salt in a mixing dish and mix gently with a whisk.

Combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar/or coconut sugar in an electric mixer bowl. With a paddle attachment, cream together for approximately 30 seconds on medium-high.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, and orange juice.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter batter and mix on a low speed with an electric mixer to incorporate.

Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (Alternatively, a silicon baking mat may be used.)

Scoop out 1 tbsp of dough with chilled hands and shape into little balls. Place on a cookie sheet to cool. Press each cookie down until it is approximately half its original size.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool until you can handle it with your hands.

Serve warm with a cup of coffee, or chill and/or freeze for later use.

healthy-cookies-cricket-flour

Sustainability

Next Millennium Farms isn’t really a “farm” as you probably understand the term. There are no fields, no barns, no fences. The facility we visit — one of three where NMF does their buggy work — is a low-slung, nondescript industrial building in suburban Toronto.

You’d never guess it was an agricultural production facility if it weren’t for a few wayward moths on the wall, the resident lizard (named Samosa), and the two fridges (“Make careful you don’t choose the incubator one,” warns co-owner Ryan Goldin).

The facility is like a never-ending biology lecture on the inside.

Hawkmoths and mealworms at different stages of development wriggle in plastic containers on shelves. Hundreds of fluttering moths make beautiful love to one another, drink from the hummingbird feeders set out for them, and deposit eggs on plants within the dark, dusty moth chamber. Pupae, as the name implies, are in the process of pupating.

Insectoid guests will find a table covered with light cornbread-like bug food. New Millennium Farms utilizes a wheat germ-based medium, but they’re also experimenting with non-grain-fed bugs to create a “true Paleo product.” To flavor the finished product, they feed some of their insects apples and cinnamon.

“The cool thing about insect farming,” explains Jarrod, gesturing at the shelves of plastic buckets, inside which mealworms are presumably living out little mealworm soap operas, “is that it has such a small footprint.

“You can take it vertical. These items may be stacked on top of one other.”

“Compare it to a cow,” says the speaker. Even just one cow needs a large amount of room. “As well as a lot of resources.”

Insects’ lifespan are also usually brief. A cricket can survive for 2-3 months, whereas a moth may live for 3-6 months. It’s not even essential to let mealworms or hornworms pupate if they’re produced for the larvae, so a farmer may go from egg to finished product in a matter of weeks.

Insects are also very efficient at turning food into edible tissue, approximately twice as effective as chickens and pigs and more than five times as effective as beef cattle. Next Millennium, according to Jarrod, can manufacture hundreds of pounds of edible insects each month across his three sites in Toronto.

Insects also consume a far broader variety of vegetation than traditional cattle. In the caterpillar lunch queue, there are no complaints about the tasteless wheat germ mush.

They can consume things that humans can’t (such mulberry leaves or wood), as well as enhance the quality of the proteins in plants, converting inaccessible food sources into something useful and beneficial for humans.

Insects’ real food conversion efficiency may be 20 times that of cattle when all variables are taken into account. As a result, insect farming, along with other kinds of “microlivestock,” may be a key component of a worldwide agricultural future that is both sustainable and profitable.

Check out the pictures below for an inside look at life on a bug farm – you can browse through the gallery by clicking on any individual shot.

Defeating hunger

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, one out of every six people will die from hunger and malnutrition.

Good soil and pure, fresh water are rapidly disappearing. The variety of crops is dwindling. Commercial livestock production on a large scale is becoming more challenging, particularly in resource-scarce areas of the globe.

Entomophagy is one potential solution to the worldwide issue of food scarcity, over-farming, and natural resource depletion.

According to some estimates, there are up to 1018 (ten quintillion) individual insects living at any one moment. Even if we just consume around 2000 different kinds, that’s a decent start.

Insects may potentially provide astronauts with a simple-to-grow food source for long-term space journeys.

People are coming on to eating insects, whether they are chefs, farmers, bug lovers, sustainability specialists, or just experimental eaters.

Entomophagy isn’t the only way to eat more ethically and sustainably, but it’s an excellent one.

But set aside the issue of sustainability for a minute. These items have a pleasant flavor. They’re also beneficial to your health. There are victories all around.

I return my rented vehicle after leaving the cricket farm.

“So, where did you go?” the desk agent says cheerfully.

I grin. “Bug farm,” as they call it.

I’d like to give you the mealworm sack. “Would you want some? They’re delectable!”

Her brow furrows and her nose wrinkles. “Do people eat those?” says the narrator.

Yeah. Yes, they do. “These ones remind me of Rice Krispies,” I remark, trying to be optimistic.

“Ew.” She is unable to accompany me at this time. “I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to offend you, but…” Her voice fades away. I totally understand.

In a few years, I’ll return.

What should I do?

Are you interested in incorporating insects into your cuisine but don’t know where to start? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Examine the dietary profile. Even if you’re a picky eater, the nutritional benefit is undeniable. Consider using cricket or mealworm flour to increase nutritional content.
  • Start with the most straightforward choice. Flour made from crickets or mealworms. It may be added to a Super Shake or soup, as well as baked products like pancakes or muffins. You don’t have to go all-out cricket straight away.
  • Toss in some flavor. As a delicious snack, try dark-chocolate-covered insects or one of the numerous flavored variations. Alternatively, get a bag of roasted mealworms and create your own taste combinations. (We like garlic and chili.)
  • Include insects in your favorite recipes. The simplest way to begin is with ground insects. If you’re feeling more daring, try scattering mealworms on a salad as croutons.

What are the best places to get edible bug products?

Bars made with cricket flour

flour / whole insects

Recipes

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martina Bednarova, Martin 71–76 in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 94, no.

Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravorty, Jhama Chakravor No. 50 of the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (2013).

“Practices of entomophagy and entomotherapy by members of the Nyishi and Galo tribes, two ethnic groupings of the state of Arunachal Pradesh.” Chakravorty, Jharna, et al. No. 7 of the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (2011).

Edible Forest Insects: Humans Bite Back! Durst, Patrick B., et al. Bangkok, Thailand: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); 2010.

“Entomophagy: A Key to Space Agriculture,” by N. Katayama and colleagues. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2007.01.027, Journal of Advanced Space Research, 2007.

“The ‘other faunivory’ revisited: Insectivory in human and non-human primates and the development of human diet,” by William C. McGrew. Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 71, no. 4, pp. 4-11.

“Macronutrient contributions of insects to the diets of hunter-gatherers: A geometric analysis,” by David Raubenheimer et al. Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 70-76, 2014.

“Nutritional Ecology of Entomophagy in Humans and Other Primates,” by David Raubenheimer and Jessica M. Rothman. 141–60 in Annual Review of Entomology 58 (2013).

Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Rothman, Jessica M. Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 59-69, 2014.

Rumpold, Birgit A. and Oliver K. Schluter “Nutritional composition and safety aspects of edible insects.” Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 57 (2013): 802–823.

Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security, by Arnold van Huis and colleagues. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): Rome; 2013.

Better eating, moving, and living.

The realm of health and fitness may be perplexing at times. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.

 

It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle methods that are specific to you.

 

Eating insects may sound icky, but don’t let the name fool you. Edible insects are a growing trend, but here’s the thing: edible insects are a great way to get protein and other nutrients from the foods that we eat. The fact is, edible insects can meet all of our nutrition needs and provide a variety of nutrients. Edible insects are high in protein, contain natural fats, and have more vitamins and minerals than many other high protein foods.. Read more about bugs protein of the future and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are bugs the protein of the future?

No, bugs are not the protein of the future.

Are insects the food of the future?

Insects are not the food of the future. They are a food source for many people today, and they will continue to be a food source in the future.

Are insects protein rich?

Yes, insects are a good source of protein.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • insect protein
  • eating insects for protein
  • insect protein vs animal protein
  • mealworm protein
  • eating bugs
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