Let them eat…bugs. What? Marie Antoinette insensitively said, “Let them eat cake,” when told that France’s “peasants” had no bread. But, bugs?
Yup. It’s been six years since the United Nation released a report stressing that eating more insects could help fight world hunger, boost nutrition, and reduce pollution. Apparently, it’s the younger crowd that is taking the lead on eating insects in the U.S. As one said: “The millennials, they get it. We can’t have beef anymore.”
The U.N. noted than over two billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects. Who knew that people in 130 countries consume 2,000 insect species? We were surprised by the variety eaten—beetles, crickets, cockroaches, moths, flies, mosquitoes, wasps, dragonflies, weevils, ant eggs, butterflies, and cicadas. In fact, some insects’ popularity as food has caused their population to decline. That could be a motivation to eat pesky cockroaches.
One late night talk host recently ranted against U.N. bullies who want to make us eat bugs, jokingly pointing out that New Yorkers with bed bugs are technically ranchers. Okay, funny. But, insect farming is on the rise.
Bugs even have a trade association! It’s called the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture. Its mission is to become “a consolidated voice to encourage positive growth of insects as both feed and food.” The organization makes the case for using insects as feed for everything from fish to farm animals.
The edible insect industry is already churning out protein bars, pastas, and chips made from bugs—mostly crickets. It brags about insects’ ecological and health benefits. Brags that raising insects produces fewer greenhouse gases and uses less water and space than beef, chicken, and pork. And, brags that bugs are also good sources of protein, fiber, and fatty acids.
That ignores the ick factor.
Yet, cricket flour is a thing, and it’s showing up in those protein bars and baked goods. Check out the recipes online! Insect pasta (ground buffalo worms) may be cool with the kids, but we’ll stick with Italian. Amazon is selling packs of chocolate dipped insects, though they are marketed as “perfect for pranks” and an “awesome gag gift.” Ironically, the reviews are terrific.
The Insect Club in Washington, D.C., got lots of buzz—forgive us—when it opened in the 1990s, serving its patrons “mealworms Rockefeller.” It soon closed down. It was before its time!
Yes it was. Media coverage of the Linger restaurant in Denver describes how the “chef tosses black ants with white rice and tops a wok-fried heap of vegetables with diced crickets and grasshoppers”— a dish called Sweet and Sour Crickets. Yum?
Entomophagy. This is the word that describes the practice of humans eating insects. It certainly wasn’t a word we knew, much less pronounce. Spell check even questioned it. We wanted to learn to pronounce it so we can be cool, but we doubt we will be participating in the practice. A study of oldies’ eating habits indicates that we avoid the latest food fads loved by millennials, with 35 percent of us opting for traditional foods. Over 50 percent of us have never touched avocado toast or tried quinoa. We’re guessing a higher percentage of us will not be buying cricket flour.
And, we suggest that no one research the source of red dye 4 that colors some candies, yogurt, ice cream, and even lipsticks!
Our wrinkled wisdom for today? If asked if you’ve eaten an insect, remember that crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are closely related to insects, according to evolutionary researchers. If you choose, smile and say, of course I’ve eaten insects. If you want to be annoying, email the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and demand they investigate the conditions in which insects are mass produced. We’re guessing that animal activists haven’t insisted that insects be killed humanely for food. We call that speciesism!!