The other day, while strolling through the aisles of Natural Grocers – our local source for organic food – we saw a special display of protein bars made with cricket flour. No, I did not pick one up to eat as I had this unexplainable mental aversion. But, many folks are somehow overcoming this aversion and buying into the new “cricket” protein trend into the food chain.
Journalist Sophie Lee, on the staff of The Daily Californian, gives her take on her first experience eating insects: “I stared into its black, beady, little eyes.
Then I popped it in my mouth, expecting the worst, but it was crunchy and tasted like garlic, lime and chili.
I was in a market in Oaxaca, Mexico, and mounds of fried grasshoppers, called chapulines, are a common sight. They’re addictive the way chips are, so I munched away. I tried not to think about the beady eyes or antennae, but one long hind leg got stuck between my teeth. As I picked the little bit of chewed grasshopper out, I decided I was done with bugs — for now.”
There is a scientific name for the eating of insects as food by humans: entomophagy. There are over 1,000 species of insects know to be eaten in 80 percent of the world’s nations. The total number of ethnic groups recorded to practice entomophagy is around 3,000. Is this about to change here in America?
Americans do, however, eat many insects already – though it is mostly unintentional. Insects are present in many foods, especially grains. Popular foods that may contain insects or parts of insects include canned sweet corn (insect larvae), canned citrus fruit juices (insect and insect eggs), wheat flour, frozen broccoli, noodles, chocolate and peanut butter. In many cases, there is no law against insects in food, just the amount of insect contamination.
Like all living creatures, crickets are also at risk of disease and virus. Cricket farming has been popular in the United States for years in supplying food to pet reptiles. Unfortunately, these enterprises have not been without challenges when certain cricket viruses can shut down an entire operation.