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The wonderful world of eating insects

Ever tried a prawn cocktail with woodlice instead of the prawn? Insects: An Edible Field Guide introduces us to the weird, wonderful and environmentally-friendly world of eating creepy crawlies 

Ever fancied swapping your salt and vinegar crisps for a deep fried crispy cricket? Or switching a juicy steak for a juicy huhu grub? If so, then you are not alone.  Over 2 billion people all over the world already eat insects every day as part of their regular diet, and the UK is quickly catching up with edible insects now sold in Planet Organic, Selfridges, and Fortnum & Mason’s. Sainsbury’s Basics Bugs to follow, watch this space. 

Eating bugs has been cited as a foodie trend for a few years now, but what could really tempt us to eat creepy crawlies? If it’s not curiosity, culinary adventure or taste, then it might just come down to your conscience.

Entomophagy (the practice of eating bugs) might just save the planet. Insects are relatively kind to the environment: greenhouse gas emissions of mealworms, crickets and locusts are lower by a factor of 100 in comparison to beef and pork production, and very few insects product any methane at all (with the exception of cockroaches and termites). 
 


And it's not just gas emissions. Water usage, too, is becoming a growing concern in environmental circles. It takes around 22,000 litres of water to create 1kg of beef. While statistics on water and land usage for insect farming are few and far between, its obvious that the lower feed:protein ratio leaves insects a more efficient protein source.

Talking of protein… insects have a very high concentration of it, which has lead to the appearance of many insect-protein products beginning to appear on shelves including energy bars designed for weight-lifters. They are also a fantastic source of good fats, such as the omegas, that you can usually only find in fish.
 


And it's not just gas emissions. Water usage, too, is becoming a growing concern in environmental circles. It takes around 22,000 litres of water to create 1kg of beef. While statistics on water and land usage for insect farming are few and far between, its obvious that the lower feed:protein ratio leaves insects a more efficient protein source.

Talking of protein… insects have a very high concentration of it, which has lead to the appearance of many insect-protein products beginning to appear on shelves including energy bars designed for weight-lifters. They are also a fantastic source of good fats, such as the omegas, that you can usually only find in fish.

And, if none of that quite convinces you, then wrap your head around the fact that you are probably already eating insects on a regular basis without even knowing it. The next time you eat a supermarket-bought sausage, pink gummy sweets, pink sherbet, marshmallow or any pink food, take a look at the label. If it says E120, Cochineal, or Carmines, then you’re eating powdered cochineal bugs, used for their rich pink colour and the fact that the manufacturer can still put ‘all natural’ on the label.

If you think powdered insect parts sounds delicious, how about regurgitated insect vomit? Or, as its known in polite circles: honey.

So if you’re eating insects already, wittingly or not, why not be adventurous and try a few more? Native species to the UK include woodlice (an excellent alternative to prawns in a prawn cocktail), black garden ants (delicious when roasted and sprinkled with salt) and mealworms (irresistible when whizzed up and stirred into bolognese sauce).
 

Insects

Stefan Gates

Ever been tempted by the thought of trying juicy deep fried mealworms, proteinrich cricket flower, or swapping your Walkers for salt and vinegar flavoured grasshoppers? If so then you are not alone! Over 2 billion people regularly eat insects as part of their diet, and the world is home to around 1,900 edible insect species.

For adventurous foodies and daring dieters comes the newest way to save the planet, eat more protein, and tickle taste buds. But this isn’t an insect cookbook. Instead it’s an informative field guide: exploring the origins of insect eating, offering tips on finding edible bugs and serving up a few delicious ideas of how to eat them once you’ve tracked them down!

It includes a comprehensive list on edible insects and where to find them, how to prepare them, their versatile usage and nutritional value as well as a few recipes. A bug-eating checklist covering all known edible bugs so readers can mark off the ones they’ve eaten and seek out new delicacies concludes the book.

This is a perfect introduction to the weird, wonderful, and adventurous side of entomophagy.

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