In North America, the eating of bugs and insects has typically been reserved for reality television shows like Survivor and Fear Factor. However, people eat insects in many countries worldwide, not as a punishment or a challenge but as a yummy snack. And as we learn more about the devastating environmental impact that industrial meat production has on our planet, these bugs could be one of the answers. So we hope you’re hungry because here are five insects that could one day be your protein of choice.
No, these aren’t some magical snacks Harry Potter picked up on a class outing to Diagon Alley. These are moth larvae. Specifically, wood-eating moths that feed on the Australian witchetty bush. These insects can be pulled right from the tree and eaten raw or cooked up and crispy. The witchetty grub is high in protein and has been a mainstay in the diets of Aboriginal Australians for centuries. It’s said that they have an almond-like taste.
Forget about the popcorn and the Twizzlers. Next time you go to the movies, why not enjoy the film while chowing down on a bag of roasted ants? And while folks here may give you funny looks, you probably wouldn’t be the only one making this snack choice in Columbia. The home of great coffee beans and delicious arepas, Columbians are also known to enjoy snacking on roasted ants at the local cineplex.
Crickets may be the most familiar edible insect on this list. There’s been a lot of chatter in health and wellness circles about crickets being the future of protein. We’ve even started to see cricket flour and protein powder show up on our grocery store shelves over the last few years. And the good news for those still uncomfortable with biting into bugs is that the pure powders provide pretty much the same mega-protein source as eating the little critters whole – which they do in places like Thailand.
Spend any significant time watching home renovation shows on HGTV, and you’ll likely see contractors open up a wall and stop dead in their tracks as they come across rotted and termite-infested boards. And while these wood-eating insects can cause damage to houses, they can provide many nutritional benefits to humans – providing a significant amount of protein, iron, calcium, and more. In Kenya, they’ll even make up a termite mush and feed it to babies.
While you might be most familiar with mealworms as food for pet reptiles and birds, these beetle larvae are also well worth considering for your consumption. And if we’re talking meat alternatives, there might be no insect better than the mealworm – whose protein, potassium, sodium, selenium, zinc, iron, and copper levels are all pretty much in line with beef. Eating mealworms has generally been confined to Asia, but the little guys have been making their way westward over the last few years. In 2017, Switzerland approved mealworms as food, and in 2021, the European Food Safety Authority called them safe for human consumption.
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