Entomophagy is the human consumption of insects of any kind. Before you recoil in horror, consider a few interesting facts about eating insects:
1,700 different insect species are eaten in 113 countries across the globe. Scientists note that insects are a great source of protein and unsaturated fats as well as other key vitamins and minerals.
In fact, there is significant evidence that early humans relied on insects as a major part of their diet, since hunting larger mammals was very difficult and could not be relied on as a consistent food source. It appears early humans ate ants, bee and silkworm larvae, and even lice.
Some have even suggested that entomophagy be reintroduced to Western culture. Insects are much more efficient to produce in large numbers than traditional protein sources like cattle, pigs, and poultry, and in many cases the nutritional value of insects is far better.
From a sustainability standpoint, it can be argued that as climate change starts affecting human agricultural capabilities, particularly in world breadbaskets like the midwestern United States and continental Europe, raising insects for food might become an unavoidable reality.
The biggest challenge is figuring out ways to prepare insects that don’t force the people eating them to deal with buggy eyes, spindly legs, and hairy antennae.
Some pretty tasty recipes (well, depending on your perspective) can be found on the Clemson entomology department’s website, including mealworm spaghetti, bee grubs in coconut cream, and grasshopper fritters.