You may not have known, but there are around 1,900 edible insects used as food in different countries around the world. In Mexico, there are 547 species of edible insects alone! I have not yet ventured in to the culinary wonders that edible insects provide, but I must admit that knowing how nutritious, environmentally friendly and relatively inexpensive they are has given me some food for thought (pun intended). If you're up for some adventure, take a peak at this tantalizing list of 7 edible insects that you had no idea you could eat!
1. Jiminy Cricket
I have never tasted them myself, but apparently crickets are one of the most popular edible insects around the world, and are a very common ingredient eaten in Thailand, Cambodia and Mexico. Eaten fried, sautéed, boiled and roasted, crickets have become a delicious culinary option! As an excellent source of protein, there are companies that are now producing protein bars that pack up to twenty-five roasted and milled crickets in each bar. I don’t know if I have enticed you to pick up a cricket for your afternoon post-workout snack, but a peanut butter and jelly flavored cricket bar may not be a bad choice, right?
2. Hairy Fairy Tarantulas
If you're traveling to Cambodia, you may just find tarantulas on the menu. Claiming to taste somewhat like an earthy crab, these spiders are high in protein and Cambodians believe that consuming these insects will boost virility, relieve backaches and help children with breathing problems. Now there are no hard facts on the medicinal properties that tarantulas provide, but when they are deliciously fried in a pan with garlic and salt, Cambodians and their guests don't hesitate to pop them like candy!
3. Earthworm Jim
Growing up, a popular cartoon I watched was called Earthworm Jim… thinking of eating an earthworm instantly brings me back to that memory, which may make it difficult for me to test one of these insects. Despite my hesitation, earthworms are great sources of protein and iron and are widely eaten around the world. The most common places that you may find earthworms on the menu are Yekuana and Venezuela. If you’re doing some traveling to South America… don’t forget to check the ingredient list while on your lunch date!
4. Jumpin’ Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers are one of the more common edible insects, one you may actually have heard of. It's hard to believe, but just one tiny grasshopper contains upwards of 6 grams of protein! There are a variety of preparation methods to help make protein-rich grasshoppers taste delicious, such as dried and roasted with olive oil, sautéed with garlic or even rolled in to a doughnut-like fritter! With so many enticing ways to prepare these insects, I might give them a try!
5. Stinky Jumiles
Jumiles are also referred to as ‘stink bugs’… I can see how eating this insect may not immediately strike you as being palatable, especially knowing they can't survive the cooking process and therefore can only be eaten alive. Aside from that creepy fact, be aware that when eaten they actually have tranquilizing and analgesic properties. These particular insects are also very high in B vitamins and taste remarkably similar to cinnamon spice. If you're looking to add some cinnamon notes to your next dish – ‘stink bugs’ may be your answer!
The last thing that comes to mind when a cockroach is making its way across my floor is to pop one in my mouth… but contrary to popular belief, these insects are actually very clean and quite tasty. You can eat them toasted, fried, sautéed or boiled and they even come covered in chocolate! There are currently products available that dress up these unappealing creatures by drenching them in chocolate and are claimed to be a popular and addictive treat! Have I encouraged you to indulge in a chocolate covered cockroach?
7. Fly Pupae … Buzz
Shaped like small red pills, fly pupae are another edible treat that you may run into during your travels. Although the appearance is not overly enticing, the fatty acid pattern of house fly pupae is actually quite similar to some nutritious fish oils. If you’re looking to add some flavor and Omega 3s to your dinner plate, fly pupae might just be a good add-on!
Insects can be a difficult product to lure customers to purchase, but there is no denying that the nutritional components of many of these insects can be highly beneficial to consume. If you are able to get over the ‘yuck’ factor that you may be experiencing, you just might want to add a nutritious, environmentally friendly and tasty insect to your next meal! Would you ever consider trying one of these creepy critters?!