Eating bugs makes my skin crawl. That’s the only bad joke I’ll make. But considering 80 percent of the world is already on-board it seems the spotlight is on the West—and it might be time for some introspection. Let's discuss.
Business Insider recently did a great article and video on the state of insects as food, and the compelling need to prioritize them as a food source. The piece even goes so far as to conclude, “If we really want to save the world, we have to start eating bugs,” and backs it up with some facts that are hard to argue.
Eating Bugs is Called Entomophagy...
The science behind the Business Insider article comes largely from an in-depth paper released in 2013 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Read: Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security
This 187-page document might look like a cerebral science report at first, but a second look reveals it to be a veritable how-to guide for any restaurateur looking to get started.
From the table of contents:
Examples of important insects consumed (Read: Ingredients)
Culture, religion and the history of entomophagy (Read: Public Relations)
Promoting insects as feed and food (Read: Marketing)
Food safety and preservation (Read: Food Handling & Allergies)
Nutritional value of insects for human consumption (Read: Menu Labeling)
Farming insects & collecting from the wild (Read: Supply Chain)
Indeed, the manual stops just short of handing over recipes—however it does suggest several cookbooks to get started.
It requires no treatise to assert that restaurants and chefs are key gatekeepers/drivers/arbiters of new food trends that make it to the masses. It’s their great power and, some would apparently argue in this case, their responsibility. That’s why it will be beyond exciting to watch the creative culinary minds of the yet-to-embrace-insects Western World evaluate and approach (or not) this call to arms in a thousand different creative and personal ways.
Will Wie points out a few restaurants and businesses already “betting on bugs,” in the Business Insider articIe. But I couldn’t help but look around to find a few more:
Will these chefs and others like them lead our industry in saving the planet? Can our best culinary ingenuity make bugs a widely accepted part of Western menus? What are you cooking and what have you tasted?
It seems restaurateurs might really have something to consider, if for no other reason than taking part in the conversation:
"There's a fly in my soup."