While eating insects, a practice known as entomophagy, may sound unappetizing to much of the western world, some cultures have been relying on this high-protein food source for eons. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an estimated 2 billion people in the world currently rely on insects as a regular part of their diet. In addition to being high in protein, insects are high in fiber, low in fat, and easily raised. They are also much more environmentally friendly and sustainable than the more sentient animal protein sources that are typically consumed.
Raising pigs, chickens, sheep, and cattle rely heavily on resources such as water and energy to produce and harvest. Additionally, these animals often live miserable lives in commercial farming operations, ultimately culminating in an equally unpleasant death. As the population continues to explode worldwide, and hunger increases accordingly, consuming insects could very well be humanity's saving grace.
The notion of eating insects has a certain "yuck factor" to most people, but when you consider all the strange things humans eat, insects really aren't that bizarre. Take honey, for example. Bees go around collecting nectar and bring it back to their hive. The honeybee then regurgitates the nectar into another honeybee's mouth, and the process repeats itself until the partially digested nectar is delivered to the honeycomb. Doesn't exactly sound appetizing, but as everyone knows, the end product is an absolutely delicious, natural super food, all thanks to an insect.
Here are two food product categories already on the market and being used around the world.
Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers
What better way to appeal to the masses than by covering arthropods in a substance virtually everyone loves: chocolate. Grasshoppers are oven-roasted until dried and then dipped in chocolate, providing a crunchy sweet treat that is high in protein. Scorpions and ants are also popular. Dehydrated crickets can also find their way into a candy maker's kitchen. They dried crickets are pulverized into a powder, which is then used to add protein and other nutrients to candy.
Skip reaching for the bag of deep-fried potato chips and reach for the sour cream and onion crickets instead. Or, maybe honey mustard or curry flavor is more your style. Chapulines are important in authentic Mexican cuisine. These dried, spicy grasshoppers are seasoned with garlic, chili, and lime. You may have already even eaten some while visiting your favorite Mexican restaurant right here in the United States; they are occasionally included in the bowls of snacks set on the bar. Sal de Chapulin Verde is a salt made from grasshoppers, and in traditional Mexican fare, this is the salt used to rim the glass of a margarita.
Edible insects will become more and more popular in the coming years, so if you consider yourself an adventurous eater, place a small order and try a few different products with your foodie friends.