How Do You Feel About Eating Bugs?

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.”

Do you remember that song? Did you ever hear it as a kid? I have no memory of the context around it, (where did it come from? why were we singing it?), but it came to mind when I was reading about new cooking flours and powders made from crickets.

Apparently, the flours can be used to add extra protein into baked goods, beans & rice, pancakes, and dinner dishes. The description on a bag of 100% cricket powder says: Cricket contains twice as much protein as beef, as much calcium as milk, as much Vitamin B12 as salmon, and 17 amino acids, including Lysine. I’ve seen cricket snack chips and protein bars too.

The powder is said to be incredibly high in protein, but requires much fewer resources to raise than other types of animal products. And I suppose there could be less of a meat-is-murder guilt factor for some people when eating bug protein than they might experience eating beef or pork. (Though who knows. Is it morally better to kill 1 chicken or kill thousands and thousands of bugs? I don’t pretend to have an answer.)

Predictions are that eating bugs will become a totally normal thing here in the U.S.. From this article

“A growing need for more food sources as well as a desire to treat animals more humanely have proponents predicting entomophagy, or eating insects, will eventually spread more heavily to western and developed countries. They envision pancakes made with cricket flour or falafel chocked full of mealworm goodness will be just as desirable as sushi.

“Sushi took 30, 40 years to really become a normal thing, but kale took like five years and kale’s not even very tasty,” said Allen, head of Austin, Texas-based Little Herds, a nonprofit founded to educate the public on the nutritional and environmental benefits of edible insects.”

I haven’t yet tried any foods made mainly with insect protein (or if I have, I’m not aware of it), but I’m open to it. At least, I’m open to a processed version of insect protein that doesn’t look bug-like in any way. I know there are places in the world where eating bugs in their natural bug form is not unusual, but I doubt I could personally ever get used to that. A powder on the other hand, I can probably handle.

What’s your take? Does the whole idea of insect-based flour gross you out? Would you eat a cookie made with cricket flour? How about your kids? For those of you who are vegan, do you classify insect-based food the same way you classify animal-based food? Or is it in a different category? And what do you think of the predictions? Will we all be eating cricket powder food in the next few years?

P.S. — I read that if you have a crustacean shellfish allergy, you may be sensitive to crickets. Also, Gateway Bug tshirt found here.

30 thoughts on “How Do You Feel About Eating Bugs?”

  1. For my daughter’s school science night this year, we made chocolate chip cookies with cricket flour. They were way more popular than the chocolate-covered insects. So funny to think that it might become mainstream!

  2. Here’s the perfect cookbook for anyone looking to eat protein-rich “grub”:

    Eat Grub features more than 55 exciting recipes using a variety of bugs, from grasshoppers to mealworms. It takes its inspiration from cuisines around the word to present a range of small plates, meals, desserts and even cocktails using whole and ground insects. It teaches you how to use insect flours to make healthy, gluten-free and protein-rich dishes, and how to puree, bake and grind various insects making them versatile to use.

    Entomophagy – eating insects – isn’t a new phenomenon. We’ve eaten bugs for centuries, and many countries around the world continue to enjoy them in modern cuisine. But insect eating is currently experiencing a rise in popularity. Restaurants are dishing up insects, the UN is publishing reports on the merits of insect-heavy diets and the Nordic Food Lab is exploring how delicious insects can be. The media is now talking about the ethics, the eco and health benefits, and the economic sense behind incorporating entomophagy into our lives.

  3. I have eaten crickets in tacos. They are relatively popular here in Mexico. They taste a little bit like pork rinds. One of the crickets fell out of the taco and I just couldn’t eat it without putting it back inside the tortilla. They were really good!

    1. Hah! I just watched a video (link in the comment above) that featured grasshopper tacos and I just don’t think I could handle eating them. I’m glad to hear they’re really good.

  4. This is so timely. My family is visiting Montreal, and we’re planning to see the Insectarium, which currently has a chef-created menu that includes silkworm tacos and ice cream cones dipped in chocolate and termites. My kids are feeling squeamish about the idea of eating bugs (Me too!). I would be more inclined to try a flour made from bugs. From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s probably advantageous to feel put off by the idea of eating bugs, or even uncooked meat.

    1. We just got back from Montreal! The botanic garden was amazing, and we stopped in at the Insectarium. My husband ordered the rice krispy treat with some bug mixed in with it, and a lemonade that had ants in it. He’s the only one that would eat the treat. We all tried the lemonade, but I definitely took the tiniest sip and made sure no ants came up in it. I just couldn’t really stomach the idea o fit.

    2. When you write, “From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s probably advantageous to feel put off by the idea of eating bugs”. Are you thinking about scorpions with poison tails? Or something similar?

      Also, I’m the same about feeling squeamish, but think I could handle the powder pretty well.

      And lastly, have fun in Montreal?

  5. I’ve tried crickets and ants, and another type of bug that I’ve forgotten. They were basically all served as snacks, so were salted and flavoured. They were pretty good, as you might expect from something salty and crunchy! The only downside was that a got a few bits stuck between my teeth – like those fingernail bits out of the middle of an apple – and I always find that a bit annoying. So bring on the insect flour, I’m up for trying that.

  6. Oh yikes. I am ALL ABOUT trying new foods and eating as naturally as possible, but I think I would really struggle with cricket flour. I do not like bugs and I ESPECIALLY do not like crickets – they are my least favorite. If I didn’t know it was in something I would probably be fine with having eaten it after the fact, but I don’t know if I could bring myself to put it in my mouth knowing it was essentially my ground-up worst fear.

    1. I would definitely feel that way if we were talking about spider flour. (Shudder.)

      Out of curiosity, does your fear extend to grasshoppers too, or just crickets?

  7. I think it’s a great idea. I first heard about cricket food from Chirps – chips made with crickets. One cricket per chip! My friend is launching a new podcast called Changemaker and she interviewed the creator of Chirps before and after she was on Shark Tank. She got a deal with Mark Cuban. You can check out the podcast trailer here.

    1. I’ve been wanting to try Chirps and actually linked to them in the post, but I didn’t know they had been featured on Shark Tank. Thanks for the podcast link!

  8. Recently, I sampled a loaf of bread made with cricket flour from a baker in Stockholm. It was similar in texture and look to injera, the Ethiopian bread. My SIL and her family are vegetarians so they were trying it out for for the nutritive factor (yet mulling over the ethics). From the taste, I imagine cricket flour or cricket protein could blend into many recipes seamlessly and it has impressive health benefits- more so than AP, GF, or other alternative flours and could be a problem-solving/environmentally friendly food source. You do not need to plant, water, or weed treat crickets & I believe they are in overabundance/detrimental to other crops.

    I’ve also tasted silkworms, and the like, in China on a food safari. Everything was fried for crunch factor, but I’d prefer powder or flour. I’d buy it if the crickets were “clean” and manufactured in respectable facility with good processes/certifications etc. i.e. I do not want to eat RAID sprayed crickets in a powder format.

    Something to consider: whomever ate the first lobster must have been really bold and really hungry. They are really gnarly looking, like gigantic water bugs with claws.

    1. I’d love to hear where they ended up in their ethics conversation. I’ve been thinking about the same thing.

      And I hear you on wanting the crickets to be raised and manufactured in a “clean” way. Interestingly, the packaging on the cricket powder specifically talks about that.

  9. I think I’d be up for cricket flour and even bugs like crickets or ants as a salty snack. When I think about big beatle-type bugs with their oozy insides … that’s more challenging for sure. However, I have no doubt for ecological and nutritive reasons, it makes sense and it probably will be integrated into our diets eventually.

    A college professor once told a story of a colleague living in Africa where she had a cook who made a dish the colleague loved. The colleague was expecting guests and asked the cook to make the dish, but she specifically requested that all the bugs be removed from the rice (? or something like that) before the cook prepared the dish. The cook complied, but the dish didn’t taste the way the colleague liked it! Ha! Maybe they’re not all bad after all. :)

  10. I had a friend in college, we’re looking at 15ish years ago now, who was always making healthy, protein snacks and testing them out on us! One night it was cricket bats, similar in texture and flavor to a cliff bar, with the bugs crushed inside, not flour. You couldn’t see any identifiable bug parts. Just crunchy, like maybe it had nuts in it. They were good and we always said he should sell them! He was ahead of his time! Crickets can be “farmed” in a way that has a lot less impact them a lot of plants and animals according to what I’ve read about it! Hello future!

  11. Our youngest dared his older siblings to eat a cricket – live and whole – and they said they’d do it if he did – so they all did! And then the youngest treated it as a party trick and ate them anytime someone challenged him. In the end he ate about 8 of the little suckers, ’till I told him no more. (His teacher was completely horrified when he also tried a caterpillar.)
    I didn’t feel the need to join in – but I think I’d be willing to give cricket flour a go.

  12. I am so telling some of my former co-workers about this. I worked at a school; they organize the yearly science carnival. We’ve had friend ants and also some sort of alarva snack (that tasted like chips, kinda). But I love the idea of flour. Howe interesting too that they have so much protien.

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