Insects have gotten a lot of attention from the entomophagy community, and there’s a good reason for that! They’re nutritious, and some may even taste good (and not like death)!
Chances are, you’re eating insects right now without even knowing it. Yup, every time you go to grab a snack, be it chips or cereal, you’re munching on an insect — minus the crunchy shell. There are different kinds, and the preparation methods are so vast you can’t always know if a bug is safe to eat without doing much research yourself.
That’s why today, we’ll be covering the different edible insects, plus their nutritional value for our health enthusiasts.
These crunchy little critters are commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially in Thailand. They can be pan-fried or deep-fried and served with a spicy sauce or seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice before cooking. You can also add them to smoothies, salads, or stew recipes for extra protein!
Ants (yes, ants)
Ants are high in protein and healthy fats – like other insects, they’re also rich in B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. You can eat them raw or cooked; some people even fry them with onions and garlic for a tasty snack!
These large and fierce insects are social wasps that can be found worldwide. The honey bee is the type most commonly found in North America, but other varieties include baldfaced hornets and European hornets. They have long, pointed abdomens and yellow-and-black bodies and look similar to bees. They build paper nests in trees or walls, which they defend fiercely from predators.
They are an excellent source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates — they contain more than 50 percent of your recommended daily allowance of protein in just one ounce — as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3.
Grasshoppers are another commonly eaten insect, although they tend to have a stronger taste than crickets. They can be fried or roasted, but the best way to enjoy grasshoppers is to grill them over an open flame until they’re crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
They belong to the family Acrididae and the order Orthoptera. There are over 30 species of locusts that can be consumed as food. It is important to note that not all types of locusts are edible.
The most popular edible locusts include the desert locust, yellow-winged locust, migratory locust, and black-striped leaf-eating locusts. Their high nutritional value makes them an attractive option for people who want to improve their diet without increasing their caloric intake significantly.
Mealworms are a popular snack food, but they’re also a rich source of protein. They don’t contain many carbs, but they do have some fiber and lots of protein — about 25 percent of their calories come from protein.
Mealworms are also an excellent source of iron and zinc. These nutrients help you get energy from your food and support the immune system. Zinc is also important for wound healing and other bodily functions.
Eating mealworms may help with weight management if you’re trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight after losing weight.
Cicadas are great high-protein snacks. They’re also a popular food source in many countries. Cicadas are often sold in bulk at Asian markets and at specialty stores that cater to insect eaters.
You can eat cicadas raw or cooked (they taste like shrimp or lobster), or make cicada kimchi, a traditional Korean dish made with cicadas, vinegar, garlic, and chili pepper paste.
Sawfly larvae are long, black caterpillars that grow up to an inch long and have large mandibles (mouth parts) on both the top and bottom of their bodies. They feed on plants such as oak, ash, and hickory trees. You can find sawfly larvae in late spring feeding on leaves of deciduous trees that have just sprouted new growth.
If you enjoy eating peanuts or pistachios, then honeylocust pods should be at the top of your list of edible insects. These sweet little morsels contain protein, fiber, and vitamins A and C. They also contain antioxidants that help prevent cancer and heart disease by fighting free radicals in your body.
Saw-wing Moth Larvae
Saw-wing moth larvae are crunchy little “bugs” that make great snacks for kids and adults alike. Their bodies contain lots of calcium, protein, and vitamin A — all essential nutrients that help keep us healthy! You can find saw-wing moth larvae on birch trees during springtime when they’re full-grown but still green inside their cocoons (which look like little bags).
Insects are a surprisingly nutritious and versatile food. However, insects as delicacies—or even as regular meals—are uncommon in the West. Still, when prepared properly, many can be a tasty source of protein. As exciting new research suggests that the global population is quickly outgrowing our ability to sustain it with current food systems, insects could emerge as a flavorful solution to our problems (not to mention they’re much easier to farm).
It might be difficult at first to get people used to eating bugs, but if they knew all the great health benefits it could bring them…maybe we’d be seeing more entomophagy in the future.