In many places around the world, chowing down on the odd creepy crawly is a fairly commonplace event. In Europe, however, entomophagy (eating insects) largely remains confined to reality TV and cutting-edge restaurants.
But perhaps not for long. Insects, be it in their natural form or a finely-ground powder, are starting to find their way into all kinds of foodstuffs.
“We do get an occasional scream from a squeamish customer,’ says Daniel Creedon, head chef at insect eaterie Archipelago. “But most people are very open to what we offer. It’s funny, because people freak out about eating insects but they’re happy to eat prawns, which are basically large insects that swim in the sea.”
“Insects have a very particular, slightly bitter flavour,” Creedon continues. “This comes from chitin, which is the protein that their exoskeletons are made from. In east Asian countries people grow up eating it and become accustomed to the flavour, but it’s not something people are used to in the UK.”
Why eat insects?
Without meaning to sound dramatic, doomsday is on the horizon – and insects might be the way to save the world. As the global population explodes (it’s expected to top nine billion by 2050) the environmental cost of feeding all those humans via traditional livestock becomes scarily high.
Insects are cheaper to farm than livestock, and have far less of an impact on the environment, as they don’t require as much water and space. They’re also packed with protein and other nutrients, and they’re absolutely everywhere. There are estimated to be 1,900 edible species of insects, and they are already eaten in 80% of countries.
Joining the insect revolution doesn’t mean you have to start crunching down crickets whole. Easing yourself in with one of these beetle-peddling food stores might be a better option...
An online entomophagy emporium that covers every possible angle, from buffalo worms to salt-and-vinegar roasted crickets. Grub’s insects can also be found in Planet Organic stores, and they are launching a cricket flour bar via Kickstarter.
Although they can be eaten straight from the packet, for truly tasty bugs, you’ll be better off cooking them. Why not chuck them into a stir-fry or roast them in some soy sauce? Well, you could probably think of a couple of reasons why not, but you never know till you try.
Get your edible insect starter pack for £29.99
If you’d rather a professional prepared your insects the first time you try them, then why not book a table at this adventurous London restaurant? Crickets, mealworms and ants are all on the menu, alongside other exotic treats like python carpaccio and kangaroo skewers.
Energy bars made with cricket flour, Crobars are a good way to ease yourself into the world of entomophagy, as the insect content is basically undetectable. There are two flavours available – peanut and cricket flour, and cacao and cricket flour, and they’re yours for just £2.29 a bar.
Here at Coach HQ, we’ve tried both Crobars and some of Grub’s finest insects. Even if the idea of eating bugs turns your stomach you’ll be fine with a Crobar, as they simply taste of peanut butter or chocolate, with not a single cricket thorax in sight. Grub’s insects are… more up the adventurous eater’s alley.
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