Right now, there are people hard at work experimenting, creating, and cooking with what could be the food of the future. It’s low cost, great for the environment, all-natural, and more nutrient-packed than most competing protein sources we use today. Are you on board with any or all of those statements? If so, remember that we once thought lobster was a disgusting sea bug and now it’s the fanciest thing on the menu! Get ready to enjoy the gastronomic and nutritional wonders of insects!
Now, before you turn away and think “Ew, nope, this is not for me,” hear us out.
We aren’t just celebrating the delicious wonders of a menu enriched by insects, we’re also going to discuss the practical side of this all. So, if you feel a little twinge of disgust at the idea of eating insects, we’ve got some science here that can help you understand that feeling and overcome it!
Okay, so why eating insects?
Let’s start with the basics. Right now it takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of protein from beef. Crickets only use 1 gallon of water to produce one pound of protein. 1This is incredibly important when you consider how much of the world’s available drinking water goes to feeding and watering livestock. 10% of the world’s water flow goes directly to livestock, and 20% of the world’s water from freshwater sources goes into feed for livestock! 2
So there’s the practical and environmental side to eating more insects. Simply, insects are very nutrient-dense but don’t require as many resources to cultivate.
What about taste?
This is where things get interesting. Let’s pretend bugs weren’t, well, bug-shaped. What if, instead, we had a new variety of fruits, some with a delicious nutty flavor, others with a tang that paired excellently with avocado toast. Perhaps these little fruits were amazing when fried up with seasoning and put into a taco. If these fruits existed and weren’t bug-shaped we’d probably be willing to give them a try.
Insects provide a remarkable new space for chefs to work in. Across the world, people eat insects as a regular part of their diet. Very often they are a delicacy! With new avenues opening up in the culinary world through insects, we now have the chance to experience a new range of exciting and nutritious flavor profiles.
This still seems gross.
Okay, maybe I haven’t convinced you eating insects is a good idea yet, and I totally understand. Disgust is a deeply ingrained part of who we are! It was once one of our most valuable feelings when it comes to choosing what we should and shouldn’t eat to keep us safe and healthy. But here’s the thing: disgust is a learned feeling. We learn what we “think” should be disgusting. There are cultures all across the world that eat insects, but for most western cultures, insects have been a huge nope on the dinner table.
Luckily, if you want to start rethinking your ideas around bugs and give them a try, we’ve got some great tips for you in this video from AJ+. Come along as the host Yara Elmjouie takes ya on a journey through this new culinary landscape and helps us wrestle with those feelings of apprehension we may have about this food future!
If you want to enjoy more of Yara, make sure you check out the AJ+ YouTube channel and his other videos there!
And, finally, if you want to check out the book That’s Disgusting by Rachel Herz, head over to her website!
So what have we learned and why should we care?
Well, first off, it’s really all about how we package the idea. Whether that’s cultural packaging or how we turn insects into yummy snack bars, the ways we present insects as food matters. Context is critical to changing hearts and minds about what we eat!
Secondly, if we want to get over our feelings of disgust when it comes to eating insects (if you aren’t already onboard) here are the three steps Rachael pointed out in the video:
1. Try it in its most concealed form.
2. Change the language around things. (Admittedly this one is tougher, but just by talking about the product your cricket protein is a part of–snack bars or protein powder, creates some distance.)
3. Eat socially! If you see people you like eating something your perception will change.
Personally, I have switched up my protein powder to Chirps Cricket Protein Powder. And, using steps 1 and 2 I’ve not only become a convert to the cricket protein life but converted my trainer and some of my friends as well! If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with adding insects to your diet, Chirps is a great place to start. Check out their website for more!
More Food for Thought…
We’ve explored insects and the future of food before on Ever Widening Circles. So, if you’re not convinced quite yet, give these articles a go and see what you think!
Always start with an open mind!
Our future is changing, and we’ll have to find ways to adjust our norms here and there. Just like we have adjusted to recycling or not throwing out trash out the window as we drive down the road, thinking about how we can make the way we eat a little better for the environment (and ourselves) can have a big impact!
All of that starts with having an open mind. Who knows, maybe in a few years when we ask kids about their favorite food, the new answer will be BBQ Crickets!
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- Chirps Chips. “Why Crickets?” Chirps Chips, eatchirps.com/pages/why-crickets-1. Accessed 22 Aug. 2019. ↩
- Food and Agriculture Organization. “Water Use of Livestock Production Systems and Supply Chains.” FAO, 2018, www.fao.org/3/I9692EN/i9692en.pdf. Accessed 22 Aug. 2019. ↩
- AJ+. “Can Bugs Be … Delicious? | AJ+.” YouTube, AJ+, 11 July 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcKAa7_8atU. Accessed 22 Aug. 2019. ↩