Eating Insects in Western Culture

by Vincent Vitale in Education of Crickets

Entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) is on the rise in Western cultures. There has been some development recently thanks to a multitude of startups that are entering the sustainable food space. Also, a few big names have gotten involved with these startups. The likes of Tim Ferriss, Mark Cuban, and Bill Clinton to name a few over the last few years. Their attempt to introduce insect based food in Western markets has not gone unnoticed.

Who’s Eating Insects in the West Already?

Mexico is the biggest consumer of insects, eating over 100 different varieties including the grasshopper, any eggs, agave worms, wasps and bees. In the U.S. and Canada people starting to eat crickets and mealworms. In Guatemala people eat the leafcutter ant. People are consuming caterpillars in France and Belgium, bee larvae in Germany, and crickets, flies and moths are being eaten all over. In Italy people prize the cazu marzu cheese, which is cheese made with live insect larvae. In Australia people consumer witchetty grub, bees, honeypot ants and Christmas beetles. In Papua New Guinea sago grub, walking stick and dragonflies are consumed, while grasshoppers are eaten in New Zealand.

Whos Eating Bugs

What types of people consume these insects?

One of the most common insects that has infiltrated the western food consumption industry is the cricket. The paleo market is filled with early adopters who are looking for high protein substitutes. The paleo community at large is looking for protein substitutes to add to their lifestyle. High endurance athletes are also very open to consuming this insect if it means a cleaner protein. This puts a focus on the functional benefit of crickets, the protein.  The number one process that utilizes crickets is first roasting them and then milling them into a powder substance that acts like a flour or protein powder.

Changing the West

Several companies are now farming crickets, creating cricket flour, as well as making consumer facing products. Companies have also utilized Kickstarter to get some early success in regard to launching cricket based foodtech startups. A cricket based company has also been funded on ABC’s Shark Tank.

It wasn’t too long ago when oysters, lobster and sushi were considered unpalatable and now they’re considered delicacies. How’s that for some food for thought?

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