The Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) in 2013 stated:
From ants to beetle larvae, crispy-fried locusts to beetles, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least two billion people worldwide.
However, when the subject of entomophagy (the human use of insects as food) rises in a Western household we usually express disgust or marginalize the “creepy” practice to psychological endurance tests on big-money game-shows.
Problem is, it’s deep-rooted in our psyche not to eat something that could potentially be harmful, like for example rotting food. But we also learn to steer clear of things to which other people around us are turning their noses up. Unfortunately, for most Westerners this includes the thought of a crunchy locust sub.
Entomologist Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History, world famous biter of bugs and passionate entomophagist thinks we should stop being repulsed by the idea, and soon. In his opinion it can’t be too long before Westerners change their mind-set when one considers how many bugs are already eaten unknowingly.
“You have to get people to, I guess, swallow it here in the Western part of the world,” Sorkin told LiveScience four years ago.
However, most Westerners will still balk at the thought of entomophagy because they are taught to this day that bugs, no matter what size, what time of the year and where they come from are dangerous and should be controlled or eradicated.
Let’s make mincemeat, just out of something…
From a young age, here in the States we’re very rarely taught to differentiate between “good” insects and “bad” ones. We’re bombarded with movies and horror stories about giant or killer insects (The Nest, The Fly, Arachnophobia); we’re also taught to be careful of wasps and told stories of killer bees and biting ants. Apparently, they’re all “bad” creatures and if we know that then we can be prepared mentally to deal with their fate.
But they’re not all bad. In fact, most insects are beneficial to the ecology of the planet; famously of course bees are one of the good guys.
So if there are good bugs as well as bad at least in terms of the environment can’t we extend this thinking to our own nutrition? If we were to simply train our instinctive Western reflexes to see insects less a nasty bug and more a tasty one we might reap the rewards.
Doesn’t it just make sense?
That insects are nutritious is not disputed; it is widely accepted that they are rich in protein and fiber and a good source of healthy fats and minerals. Two billion people around the planet don’t eat insects because they’re insane or running low on chicken or trying to win a big prize fund. They eat an insect because they have a mind-set which allows them to appreciate what the creature is, what it represents, what goodness it holds and its inherent health benefits.
It is time we looked at things from a different perspective.