Insects: The Hot New Food?

Perhaps it’s good practice for a 2012 Apocalypse-type scenario, but it’s hard to believe that eating bugs will really catch on more than as a shock tactic. Sumathi Reddy reports for the Wall Street Journal:

He’s making “chocolate chirp cookies”—with crickets inside—for a coming art festival. He puts crickets in his tacos when he watches football. And his freezer is full of bags of various insects, including dry-roasted crickets from Thailand, wax- and silkworms, and domestic crickets he raised at home, fattened up on oatmeal and orange rinds.

“Hearing them chirp all night long is really kind of beautiful,” said Mr. Dennis on a recent evening as he prepared a bug dinner. “But then you’ve got to eat them, of course.”

For Mr. Dennis, a 45-year-old painter and Elmira College associate art professor, the challenge is convincing those around him that bugs are tasty, and good for you, too—high in protein, low in fat, cheap and good for the environment. “I think it’s what sushi was 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “Now it’s time for bugs.”

Across the country, entomophagy—the eating of insects—has gained a small audience hopeful that the inclusion of bugs in global cuisine from Southeast Asia to Mexico inspires more of a following for such dishes in the U.S.

It’s been a slow crawl. For years, the idea has been pushed by champions such as David Gracer in Rhode Island, who has a company that sells processed edible insects, and David George Gordon, a Seattle-based science writer who published the Eat-a-Bug Cookbook in 1998. Buggy fare has been featured at the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans and at events like BugFest at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Bug Bowl at Purdue University in Indiana.

A recent paper put out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations cited nibbles of interest in industrialized countries: Special insect dinners in Japan often sell out, and in the Netherlands, insects marketed as “bugsnuggets” and “buglibars” can be found at supermarkets…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]

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