Did you know that insects have been used as a source of protein throughout history and are still eaten to this day in many different cultures? Like it or not, you probably have unintentionally eaten a fair share of bugs in your life. Entomophagy, or bug eating, is taboo to some but it is practiced in 80% of the worlds nations including North, Central and South America, Australia, Asia and Africa by 3,000 ethnic groups. It is estimated that there is over 1,000 species of insects known to be eaten around the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has registered over 1900 edible insect species.
The practice of entomophagy is somewhat broad including arthropods, arachnids, myriapods and crustaceans. Some of the most popular bugs known to be eaten are ants, crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, beetles, beetle grubs (such as mealworms), caterpillars (tomato & tobacco hornworm), tarantulas and scorpions. These insects are even making their way into western mainstream culture. Edible insect farms and restaurants are popping up in the United States, Canada and Europe. Candy covered crickets and scorpions can even be found in the candy store.
Why are bugs being looked at as a food source once again? Simply put, the rising cost of animal protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth, and an increasing demand for protein around the world.
Before you go out and start munching on some creepy crawlies there are a few things you should know. Not all bugs are edible and some are very toxic. In nearly every family of insects there are toxic species. If you are not sure about its edibility then avoid eating it. Do not gather insects feeding on trash or dung, they are likely to carry infections or parasites. Avoid insects with bright colors which are usually poisonous. Grubs found on the underside of leaves often secrete poisonous fluids, but they might just work as fish bait. Some insects have large powerful jaws or stingers so handle with care.
Here is a great resource from fix.com about edible insects, including nutrition facts, and a recipe for cricket flour:
Source: Fix.com Blog
Essential Insects & Entomophagy Videos from Plight to Freedom:
Keep your eyes and ear open and your powder dry!