It's Time to Bug Out
They may look creepy, but insects might be the protein of the future.
Remember when eating sushi made people squeamish? How about the first time you ate a slimy oyster? Caviar? Many foods we look at today as delicacies once made us shudder. So why do we look the other direction when it comes to eating insects?
With upwards of 2,000 edible insects—including crickets, termites, black ants, wasps, Manchurian scorpions, silkworm pupae and locusts—many cultures around the world incorporate them into their daily diet. That’s often due to a need for a sustainable food source.
Eating insects, in place of cows, pigs and chickens, has a significantly lower environmental impact. Insects require less feed, emit way less greenhouse gases and don’t need as much land or water to be raised. Insects also serve as a substantial protein source, not to mention being high in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
“Insects are just another interesting option to traditional animal proteins,” says chef Erik Oberholtzer, founder of Tender Greens with locations in New York, Massachusetts and California, “as we all look to take the pressure off industrial meat and the resources necessary to raise them.”
According to the Crop Trust, an international nonprofit organization that works to preserve crop diversity in order to protect global food security, unsustainable meat consumption is a threat to the planet. In other words, if we continue to focus our attention on raising, selling, cooking and eating meat, we run the risk of running out of food and decimating the environment.
Jesse Roque, chef/owner of Madame Roque’s Meat Emporium & Pickled Curiosités in Hendersonville, N.C., thinks Americans need to truly experience food insecurity before insects will fully get embraced as a food source, which is unfortunate.
“I cook with bugs because I believe we will be seeking a more sustainable protein source in the not too distant future,” Roque admits. “My husband is from Mexico, and insects are as common to his culture as potato chips are to ours.”