These are the insects I offered to my students today. I did this not to gross them out but because I really believe that entomophagy and eating bugs is one of the best things that we can do for the future. Insects require way fewer resources to produce- they need less water, less space, less food- and they do well in conditions where you couldn’t raise cattle, chickens, etc. They provide great protein and are super cheap- and that’s actually really important. When we think about the human diet, we need to consider the big picture. It’s not just people in the US eating food, it’s people in developing nations and nations with more depleted resources or just natural resources that don’t lend themselves well to what western society understands food production to be. An increased reliance on and acceptance of insect protein, as well as additional nutritional research into how to optimize it, could provide opportunities for personal food production and a lessened reliance on corporate factory farming systems.
Anyways, these are crickettes! They’re more for the “omg a bug” factor than for the useful factor (it’s insect flour that’s the most effecient way to prepare it), but they’re not that bad. The sour cream and onion flavor’s the best, but the salt and vinegar flavor is SO salty and vinegary that it’s good for people who don’t want to taste a bug. The overwhelming consensus of my students was that the insects were pretty much just like sunflower seeds.
They ate every single one of the cricket samples. I actually ran out.
Tonight for the very first time, I attempted to make macarons. I’ve never actually made macarons before- even normal ones, with ground almonds- and I’ve heard they’re notoriously tricky. So, sans stand mixer, sans a piping bag, sans a tested recipe, and sans almonds… I went for it.
Here’s what I learned: 1. I can’t pipe worth a goddamn. 2. It’s impossible to pipe good macarons without a real piping bag- using a plastic bag with a corner cut off does not work. 3. Cricket flour is an entirely acceptable substitute for almonds. I may no longer be welcome in France for this but it WORKED.
This is a test batch and they are HIDEOUS, but the structure is there. The skin formed, they all got feet (except for the huge one, but that one doesn’t count), they have the nice shell on the outside and soft middles, and… honestly, they taste great. They need some work, but for a test bake? I’m thrilled. I got feet! First time out and using CRICKETS, I got FEET!
Next time I’ll be using an actual piping bag and making some minor changes to my ratios- I think I needed a bit more egg white and a bit less dry ingredient mix- but this is going to work.
That big one, bless its soul- i poked it every few minutes while they were resting to test skin development. They’re ugly as sin, but that’s a me thing. I can learn to pipe, after all.
Now they need to sit in the fridge for a bit before I fill them. I’m only going to fill a few- the uglies are going to get mixed into vanilla ice cream. After I get a real piping bag, I’ll be doing another batch, this time focusing more on appearance.
Part of a project I’ve been working on the previous month. It will be
published next year hopefully. The full project comprised around 90
images… I really enjoyed it. It was an ‘old style’ illustration
project, not scientific illustration though, so it doesn’t have the
accuracy I would have liked to achieve with the images (not enough
So what do all these have in common? Well, they are all edible, and that is what the book is about!
Pictured, left to right starting from the top: Dragonfly (Anisoptera), Centipede(Scolopendra spp), Australian stingless bee (Meliponini tribe), Goliath Tarantula ( Teraphosa blondi), Termite (Reticuliformes spp), Roman snail (Helix spp), Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa), and Bush cricket (Leptophyes spp).
Wait wait wait please someone explain cricket flour to me. I looked it up, and yes it is made of crickets. Why are you eating these? Protein? No judgement I’ve just honestly never heard of this.
A lot of reasons! First- I’m an anthropologist and I teach intro courses. When we talk about diets, entomophagy comes up a lot, and I like to show my students that for most of human history, we’ve been eating bugs- the prejudice against bugs as a protein source is a weird western thing. Bugs are an important protein source worldwide, and by taking something as strange to most people as cricket flour and incorporating it into something familiar, like cookies, it helps people get over their cultural bias and see things a little differently.
It’s also an environmental thing. Entomophagy could help save the world if it was adopted en masse by countries that demand a lot of meat consumption. It probably won’t be, barring like… some kind of post-apocalyptic scenario, because industrial farming is way too important to capitalism, but I like to talk about it to make a point. Insect protein uses less water than any other protein source. Even plant proteins like you get in legumes- insects use less. They require less space. They (obviously) require no pesticides, and they require very little energy put into them. You can raise them in vertical spaces very easily, meaning they take substantially less space than any other form of farming- and you can raise your own in your kitchen or yard. Factory farming destroys the environment. Swaths of rainforest are clearcut for cattle; pesticide runoff poisons our water. Climate change is going to mean less and less arable land- incorporating insect protein into our diets is something we might have to do- so playing with it and having some fun with it kind of helps me make that statement. People are more willing to listen to me talk about eating bugs when I hand them a delicious cookie.
Eating wild fruit means getting the occasional mouthful of frass. This is a larva of a Plum Moth.
I’m very pro-entomophagy (insect-eating) from a practical and intellectual point of view, but I have a ways to go in terms of unlearning the visceral revulsion that comes from seeing an insect in my fruit. It doesn’t help that my sister was once bit on the tongue by an earwig in an apricot (she got in the local newspaper!): that imagery stays with you.
Gardening without chemically-synthesised pest controls (where possible) means eating (or eating around) the creepy crawlies, as one does with wild fruit: other than a relatively ecologically-friendly pheromone trap, there’s no way around ‘sharing the harvest.’
In case you’ve ever wanted to see me in action, this is how I teach when I’m in a big lecture hall- 250 people in the class. Not bad for a presentation I put together in a little more than a day, I think! I’m a little unpolished, but I think I have time to work on that. I wish it was a bit more seamless switching between the source computer and the doc cam, but eh, that’s just nitpicking.
Anyways, today I actually had to tell the students that it was time to leave. They start trickling out at the end- I actually got kinda swarmed with students who wanted to ask questions and try a cricket sample- they were taking cricket selfies and eating crickets together. It was cute.
In the classic children’s book “How to Eat Fried Worms,” Billy must eat 15 worms in 15 days to win a bet. The children are so disgusted by the idea of eating worms that they agree to pay $50 if the task is completed.
This is the view of entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs, in much of the developed world. Bug-eating is reserved for reality television and hardcore survival shows in American culture, but insects of all kinds are devoured in many countries, weather served as street food or high-end delicacies, baked into dishes or eaten raw.
Whatever country your travels take you to, there is sure to be a delectable six-legged insect ready for cheap eating (or eight-legged if tarantulas are what you crave). Over 3,000 ethnic groups incorporate bugs into their daily diet. Chomp down a scorpion skewer in the streets of Beijing, fried grasshoppers in Cambodia, or raw grubs in Australia.
Enotmophagy dates back to before the Greeks and Romans–Aristotle mentioned dining on cicadas. Canada, the US, and Europe have abandoned the tradition to the point where bug-eating verges on taboo (with the exception of the popular French snail delicacy escargot).
Some State-side shops offer insect fare, but the products are still considered novelty items. Chocolate-covered crickets and larvae lollipops can be ordered online for just over a dollar each, and some local ethnic food shops carry bug items. Check an Asian food grocery or Mexican store in your area for tasty six-legged snacks for a new cultural experience without leaving your city.
If your travels take you to the big apple, one bar offers three insect-infused cocktails for adventurous palettes. Stop by the White and Church bar for a “Rosemary,” cinnamon rum, apple juice, lemon juice, with toasted honeybees and a sprig of rosemary. Although this drink and their other two buggy beverages will run you $13 each, it’s worth the splurge for a unique experience without crossing international borders.
hey saw you were into insect protein, so I thought I'd share a true story: my drama prof was sacked and started up his own mealworm farm and insect protein business (Cornish Edible Insects)
AMAZING. I love their recipe board- those mealworm flapjacks look particularly delicious. This is also really great because it’s a European source, so for anybody who wants cricket flour and lives across the pond and doesn’t want to pay to get it shipped from the US or Canada? Why not get delicious Cornish insects?
As a greater number of people enter the middle class around the globe, many will turn away from plant-based diets in favor of meat-based diets. This could be a cause for concern, as meat production requires the input of substantially more resources, such as water and energy. The question of how to feed a growing world in a time when wealth is spreading and personal tastes are changing is the subject of some sustainability research.
Outside of the Western world, insect consumption is common. The Chinese, for instance, will eat just about anything that crawls on six (or more) legs. Centipedes and fried scorpions appear on the menu.