8 edible bugs to try now

8 edible bugs to try now (Fotolia)

8 edible bugs to try now (Fotolia)

Joanne Richard, Special to QMI Agency
 

, Last Updated: 2:27 PM ET

 

Hey, is that a grasshopper in your soup? Well eat it! And while you’re at it, dig into some ant larvae, crickets, palm weevils and maguey worms.

That’s what a group of insect-eating McGill University students wants us all to do – gobble up bugs. They’re tasty, eco-friendly, protein-rich and are ripe for the taking.

So that’s just what I did. Hey, what’s a few crunchy chapulines between new friends – deep-roasted grasshoppers tossed with a dash of garlic, lime and chili. Yummy – and crunchy too. If you’re not up eating whole insects, how about grasshopper-infused chocolate chips, power bars and potato chips? These are coming to a store near you soon.

It’s smart food, but North Americans might have trouble stomaching the concept of eating bugs and getting past the ick factor, admits Jesse Pearlstein, a student at McGill and member of the award-winning Aspire Food Group, which is out to change the way we think about bugs and give the insect cuisine movement some legs.

So far Aspire has come up with Flour Power, a protein-rich flour made up of ground grasshoppers, which they’re using to make tortilla chips. They plan to incorporate other bugs and grow their snack food offerings. Getting buggy has big benefits: They’re high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Insects are not only comparable in protein to beef pound-for-pound, but raising them has a much smaller environmental impact, says Pearlstein, adding that one third of the planet eats insects.

Hey, escargot, cavier and calamari are considered delicacies, so why not giant water bugs, wax worms, and deep fried scorpions? “Thirty years ago the idea of eating raw fish was considered vile. Today, you can’t walk two or three blocks without seeing a sushi restaurant in a city like Toronto,” says Pearlstein, who believes that the parallel to sushi is compelling for the inevitability of an uptake in insect consumption in the near term for emerging markets.

 

A few high-end restaurants in Europe are serving up mealworms and crickets, and bugs are expected be gracing menus in trend-setting cities, including New York, D.C. and California. “What is so gross about grasshoppers? We can think of at least a dozen gross and unhealthy factors associated with consuming factory-farmed livestock that we all perceive as normal,” says

Pearlstein. They’re a social venture working hard to establish “micro-livestock” farming, think free-range insect farms, to address the global issue of food insecurity in progressive and progressing countries.

Their insect initiative won the prestigious 2013 Hult Prize for social entrepreneurship and that came with US $1 million seed capital to launch their mass-rearing systems. So far they are in Mexico and Ghana, with commercial production slated to begin by early fall.

Bugs are the food of the future – “not the food of the poor,” adds Gabe Mott, fellow Aspire Food member who is particularly fond of the palm weevil. “It’s a maggot the size of your thumb and it bursts with flavour.”

Mott, who is a vegetarian turned “bug-etarian,” adds that edible insects have always been a culinary tradition in many cultures. The possibilities are endless, and the Aspire Group believes that popular opinion is changing, especially given the ever pervasive eco-consciousness of younger generations.

With approximately 1,900 species of edible insects out there, that’s sure a lot of grub to dine on. Bon appetite!

 

 

 

 


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