In 2013, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released a report called Edible Insects – Future prospects for food and feed security. In it, they contend that we as humans may soon need to get over our aversion to creepy crawlies, as we may soon need to stuff them in our faces as a source of protein.
“It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to farming is rarely a viable or sustainable option. Oceans are overfished and climate change and related water shortages could have profound implications for food production. To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today – there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide – and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated. Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food.”
And they suggest we start eating things like mealworms, crickets, spiders and other bugs. Of course, people have been eating bugs for thousands of years – and in many cultures still eat insects and arachnids. Cambodians, famously, love to crunch down on deep fried tarantulas. Here, and in other parts of Africa we eat mopane worms, which are not only incredibly nutritious, but also pretty tasty delicacies.
I’ve eaten mopane worms, scorpions and crispy crickets – but I’m not sure I’d be able to wolf down a gooey tarantula. Here’s what the team has to say:
“It sounds utterly gross, right? And yet, I think it could be interesting if the food source was farmed and prepared in a manner that actually makes it taste decent. There’s one hell of a stigma to get over when it comes to accepting insects as a food source, but I’m game for anything if it actually has a fantastic taste and texture to it. That, and I’d like to complain at least once to a waiter that there aren’t enough flies in my soup.”
“I’m the very opposite of a picky eater, so gulping down on some bugs is no big deal for me. And I actually have gulped, having had the opportunities to eat mopane worms, grilled grasshopper, and an assortment of smaller dried out creepy crawlies. And you know what? They weren’t bad. Most of them boasted more crunchy texture than retching flavour, so I would have no issue of these very nutritional morsels supplementing our diet. Just stay the hell away from me with broccoli and cauliflower though.”
“I’m up for trying bugs as food but I think it would depend on how they are prepared. If it comes looking like chicken nuggets and not tasting like dirt then I don’t think I’d have a problem. But if someone just drops friend crickets on a plate I’m not sure that would be appealing”
“Totally depends on the bugs. Spiders and really any bugs with knees creep me out far too much to even imagine allowing inside my body. But worms and flying creatures could work for me, maybe. And really, once you clean it and cover it in chocolate, I’m sure it becomes edible. Still gross, but perhaps offers a unique variety compared to traditional food sources.”
“That’s Fear Factor-level stuff for me, but I suppose if it’s your only option (as it was in Snowpiercer). Seriously though, there’s plenty protein in oats and eggs, so bug munching would be absolutely the last resort, thanks. I’ve tasted dried mopane worms and they were very unappealing.”
“I don’t think I could ever eat bugs. Rationally, I know that it’s no big deal. I mean, if you were enjoying eating an apple and you found half a worm – why stop eating the apple? You were enjoying it beforehand, and you’ve already eaten half the worm, so why not finish it? Because ewww gross, that’s why. It’s a gut reaction. I’d honestly rather find another source of protein like nuts”
Insects! They’re nutritious, apparently quite tasty, much better for the environment, and soon, may be necessary. You tell us though! Would you munch on mealworms or crunchy creepy crawlies?