Culinary Creepy-Crawlies

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern 

Insects have been eaten in countries across the globe for centuries. The United States, however isn’t known for being one of those places. Ask your friends or family, and most of them will tell you they have never eaten a bug, and never will. But what if I told you that eating insects could be a norm in the not so distant future?

Think about it: Insects pack a protein punch, can be flavored just like chips, have a satisfying crunch, and can be ground down into flour, among many other options. The only negative is the perception we have that bugs are ‘icky.’

Little girl with cricket in a jar

In many countries already though, insects are sold in the open market as street food, and eaten in-home as snacks. There are even places in the world where insects are farmed for human consumption; and rightfully so.

Some typical insects that are eaten all around the world include beetles, ants, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, termites, and worms. Remember in science class when we learned the difference between insects and arachnids? Well people eat ‘non-bugs’ such as spiders and scorpions, too.

Did you know that according to Iowa State, one cricket has 12.9 grams of protein, and 75.8 milligrams of calcium? Grasshoppers have 20.6 grams of protein and 35.2 milligrams of calcium. These little critters pack a powerful punch, certainly of protein.

Now, I bet you’re wondering how one would consume these creepy crawlies. Grabbing a handful of crickets and munching on them probably doesn’t sound that appetizing; but it can be. If you search the internet, you will find that you can purchase snack bags of your favorite insect. Just like you can buy personalized sizes of popular potato chips, you can buy a little bag of barbeque flavored crickets to satisfy your cravings. And BBQ isn’t the only flavor out there. If you can crave it, there is a little bag of bugs out there calling your name.

If you don’t want to eat them by the handful, there are all kinds of other crafty ways to get the nutrition insects have to offer.

  • Instead of croutons, sprinkle some crickets, worms, or ants over your salad.
  • Use cricket flour as a substitute for normal flour if you are looking for something with more protein, or are cooking for someone with food allergies.
  • Drop some mealworms into coleslaw to give it more texture.
  • When making chocolate chip cookies, sprinkle mealworms or crickets across the top of the cookies before baking.

Now it’s your turn. Pick up a bag of edible bugs and have fun trying them out in all kinds of different recipes. Let us know what you create.

But, no fear, beef, chicken and pork will continue to reign supreme with us. And, you can find the best home-gown recipes right here on Fill Your Plate to satisfy the traditional protein options Americans will continue to love.


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