Can you see yourself sitting down at a restaurant and ordering a mealworm burger on a kaiser roll? Or picking up a package of bugs on the way home and sauteeing them for dinner? It’s where we’re going, friends; the latest news out of the European Union has the food safety agency there approving mealworms for human consumption.
Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle. The yellow, maggot-like insects also happen to be very high in protein and fiber. When dried, they’re said to taste very much like peanuts. That’s not so bad, is it?
The EU agency, based in Parma, Italy, says mealworms are entirely safe for humans to eat. However, people with prawn and dust mite allergies might have reactions.
The recent move paves the way for food agencies across Europe to follow suit, but edible insects are nothing new. Although reasonably fresh to Europe and North America, as Garden Culture’s Albert Mondor explains in this article, bugs are already eaten by about 2 billion people worldwide.
In Canada, cricket powder has been on store shelves for some time. The powder is full of protein and can be added to smoothies, chilies, sauces, and more.
There are a couple of excellent reasons why creepy crawlers are making their way into the world’s food scene.
For one, The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says they might help tackle food insecurity. They are widely available and also cost much less to farm than other forms of livestock.
Also, raising bugs takes much less of an environmental toll than raising pigs and cows, for example.
Livestock farms use an enormous amount of water, and the runoff from these farms is polluting our land, lakes, and rivers. Not to mention the greenhouse gases!
The FAO says pigs produce 10-100 times more greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram than mealworms.
Can You Stomach It?
There’s no doubt many of us might be turned off by chowing down on bugs. After all, until now, finding one on your plate at a restaurant meant a free meal.
A consumer researcher at the University of Parma admits that word of mealworms being approved for human consumption is triggering a “yuck” factor across Europe. But he suggests that will likely change with time and exposure.
What about you? Will you be able to stomach eating insects for protein?