Eating Bugs Is A Viable Source Of Nutrition If You’re Open To It

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 • American Fork, UT 84003

Eating Bugs Is A Viable Source Of Nutrition If You’re Open To It


It’s important to get enough high-quality protein in your diet, but not always easy. Do you buy whey protein powder or pea protein powder? Vegan plant-based powder or a blend? If it’s true that the body can’t assimilate coagulated amino acids found in meat, does that mean chicken isn’t a source of usable protein? What if you can’t consume the amount of food you supposedly need?


If you’re wondering how to get enough high-quality protein without having to eat yourself sick, you may want to consider bugs. Yes, that’s right – bugs. Like crickets, grasshoppers, and worms.


If you’re already thinking about running away, it’s only because you didn’t grow up eating bugs in your culture. Our food preferences are shaped early in life, and while we have some innate preferences – like a distaste for onions – other preferences are conditioned.


In the US, most people don’t see insects as food. Instead, insects are seen as filthy and annoying. Naturally, when the idea is presented to eat those insects, the association sways people to pass on the opportunity – unless they’re trying to get a reaction out of someone. Unfortunately, eating bugs has a “shock factor” reputation in the US for that reason.


Insects are a rich source of protein


In an article discussing the bias of food preferences against bugs, The New Yorker describes the New York Entomological Society’s hundredth anniversary dinner in 1992. The menu listed some insect delicacies: cricket and vegetable tempura, mealworm balls in zesty tomato sauce, and roasted Australian kurrajong grubs.


Marialisa Calta from Eating Well was present for this dinner and sampled some of the items in order to free her cultural bias against eating bugs. She explained to one of her skeptic counterparts, “a hundred-gram portion of giant silk moth caterpillars provides 112.2 per cent of the recommended daily adult allowance of riboflavin, 120 per cent of the copper, and 197.2 per cent of the iron.”


You can even grow your own bug farm to supply yourself with all the protein you need.


Countries around the world eat insects regularly


In the US, the idea of eating bugs is enough to turn most people’s stomachs. In other countries, like Thailand, grasshoppers, crickets, and woodworms are a regular snack. In fact, bugs are regularly eaten in many countries around the world like Ghana, Mexico, China, Brazil, Australia, Japan, and The Netherlands.


Eating most insects is harmless. Still, most people – at least in the US – don’t want to eat them. In fact, Americans go to great lengths to keep bugs out of their food and their homes with products like insect repellant and kits to kill moths in the closet and pantry.


You’re already eating bugs without knowing it


Bugs are part of the natural world, and most Americans are familiar with their local insects and other creatures. As long as they’ve living outside, even spiders seem rather cool. That doesn’t mean you want them in your home, let alone in your food. However, since bugs eat much of the same food you do, it makes sense that you might come across one accidentally in a meal. Especially when you grow your own garden.


Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exists to regulate and protect the public health by assuring the safety of food in the US, they permit a certain amount of bugs to be present in food. Worms, aphids, and other insects are allowed to be present in small amounts as long as the aesthetic quality of the food isn’t compromised.


If you’re squeamish about finding bugs in your food, you may want to eat with your eyes closed. The truth is, bugs make their way into food all the time, and it’s not uncommon to find them in canned goods, cereals, rice, flour, and other dry goods made from wheat.


They don’t always appear right away. Often, it’s the eggs that are in the food and they hatch later. That’s why people often find baby insects inside of (expired) tightly sealed boxes of cereal.


In other words, you’re eating bugs all the time and you just don’t know it. Perhaps you’re already getting your protein from bugs!