Insects form part of the diet of at least two billion people around the world. While 1,900 species have reportedly been used as food, not many are being consumed by average Canadians — yet.
Here are five things to know about edible insects:
1. WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMONLY EATEN INSECTS?
The FAO says they include beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leaf and planthoppers, scale insects and true bugs, termites, dragonflies and flies.
2. HOW DOES THE AMOUNT OF PROTEIN STACK UP?
One hundred grams of cricket flour contains 65 grams of protein, while 100 grams of steak contains less than 30 grams of protein.
3. THEY’RE NUTRITIOUS
Grinding or milling is a common method for processing insects. Cricket powder (cricket flour), which is just ground roasted crickets, adds a subtle nutty or earthy flavour to whatever you bake or cook, including cake, cookies, muffins, protein shakes, soup and chili. If you only add a small amount, you won’t even taste it.
4. HOW DO YOU EAT THEM?
Flavoured whole crickets and mealworms taste and feel a lot like a potato chip. Whole crickets can be coated in chocolate, while crickets and mealworms can also be used as a garnish like croutons in salads or soups.
5. ARE THERE ANY DANGERS?
People with seafood allergies should be cautious as there are distant relations between some insects and shellfish. If you have an allergy to insect bites or stings you should also proceed with caution. Insects like crickets are gluten-free, but the grain they are typically raised on is not, so some companies have designed a special feed to accommodate individuals with celiac disease. Insects should always be cooked.
Though they may be tempting, don’t eat those brightly coloured raw insects you find in your backyard.