Beetle-mania: are insects the food of the future?

May 15th, 2013

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The foodie world is abuzz with news the UN is telling us to eat insects for the sake of our health and the planet.

The word is bugs are an environmentally-friendly food source with powerful nutritional benefits. They might end world hunger. And, uh, they also taste yummo.

Why dont we eat insects

Eating insects isn’t as weird as you think

A new book on the subject has just been released by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation at the Forests for Food Security and Nutrition conference taking place in Rome until Wednesday. It says beetles, wasps and caterpillars are an unexplored nutritional food source that’ll help us deal with the increasing demand for food worldwide.

Woah now – you might be thinking, that’s a revolutionary notion.

Well actually quite a lot of the world already chows down on insects with relish. More than 1,900 species of ’em are eaten around the world, mainly in Africa and Asia.

Oh and if you think Jiminy Cricket would only be finger-food during a famine … the truth is wherever they are part of the staple diet, they are most likely being eaten ‘cos people like the taste (not because the cupboard is bare of anything else). Apparently, these things can make your average canapé taste like chopped liver by comparison. 


… Obviously the insect is yet to become the ingredient de jour in typical Western kitchens (when we eat weird things like prawns, muscles and Chiko rolls without a qualm).

However, we’re here to tell you if you get over your hang-ups we’re in for a dead-set treat – …

Insects are good for you

Insects are high in protein and mineral contents. And if you are having trouble stomaching the idea of eating an insect whole, then you can also think about eating ‘em ground into a powder or paste and putting them into other foods.

“Insects are not harmful to eat, quite the contrary. They are nutritious, they have a lot of protein and are considered a delicacy in many countries,” says Eva Muller, the Director of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division.


“There’s a huge potential that has essentially not been tapped yet,” Ms. Muller says. “Most [insects] are just collected and there’s very little experience in insect farming, for example, which is something that could be explored in view of a growing population.”

According to the UN, the potential for farming insects is tremendous in Western countries. Outlay and ongoing costs will be small, the little critters are easy to manage and generally cause very little trouble (ever heard of a worm stampede? – I think not!) and they’ll have a pretty minor environmental impact.

Fabulous beetles, eh?

Photo of BEATLES

Superfood? … or super gross?

Beef has an iron content of 6.0 milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight. The iron content of locusts varies between 8.0 and 20 milligrams per 100 grams.

Oh and insects require just two kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of insect meat compared to a ratio of 8-to-1 for beef.

(Of those insects with the most potential, the larvae of the black soldier fly, the common housefly and the yellow mealworm are front-runners.)

Can’t knock those figures, right?

The catch is that for most peeps the thought of actually putting one in their mouths and chewing down is a bit naaaasty.  Whatever – don’t tell me you’re not looking at this smorgasbord and your mouth isn’t watering…


And think about it, it wasn’t that long ago when the thought of eating raw fish was a bit ick – and now sushi is one of the most popular snacks around.

Still, the UN concedes that wholesale incorporation of the insect into our diet is a long way off. They say the food industry should start doing its bit to raise awareness of the positive benefits of using them …

So, uh, we’re going to be pushing the message as best we can.

Eat BUGS, people!

GirlEatingSpider-763445A note of caution, however: as with anything else you happen to put in your mouth, you gotta make sure it’s from a trusted source. We don’t recommend you swiping any old crawling thing you find in the backyard and sticking it on your baking tray.

Avoid anything with bright colours, covered in hairs and/or spines – as they are likely to be poisonous (and therefore somewhat at odds with the whole “insects are good for you” message we are going for here).

For the newbies – why not start with crickets? They are healthy and delicious and fairly unlikely to kill you.

You can get them from pet stores. If it seems a little weird to be eating pet food, well – uh – it is. Just deal with it and move on. Or raise them yourself. Just try not to get too attached.


There’s a recipe out there for whatever bug is your favourite snack of choice: but here’s our recipe for crickets – which will, uh, put a real spring in your step.

Dry Roasted Crickets (aka – the perfect party snack):

Roast Crickets


  • 25 – 50 live crickets – or however many you wish to cook/serve
  • Salt, or any preferred seasoning that can be shaken or sprinkled onto crickets after roasting.

First of all, you might thinking “what the hell-… live crickets? What sort of monster are you?!”

Well, they’ll taste pretty bad if you don’t cook ’em alive. Hey, don’t blame us. It’s just the way the cricket crumbles … the fact is, once dead, they’ll go into a post-mortem state that’s genuinely unpalatable (sort of like lobster – hence the necessity of boiling those poor schmucks alive also).

Of course, you’re going to have to arrange the crickets on the baking tray without them hopping around in your oven. The best thing to do is stick ’em in the fridge – this’ll slow down their metabolism so they stop moving (the little tykes). Once they’re in a nice little stupor they are more than happy to be roasted alive for your enjoyment.

Jiminy_CricketCooking Method:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Arrange yer docile little crickets on a cookie sheet. Bake ’em good for about an hour or until the suckers are dry or dried out enough for your taste. Season them with salt/sea salt/smoked salt or whatevs. Add Tobasco Sauce if you wish …  (pro tip: everything tastes better with Tobasco Sauce, with the possible exception of sponge cake).

Depending on your oven, you may wanna check on their progress at about the 45-minute mark. Test if they’re dry enough by crushing one with a spoon against a hard surface. They should crush easily when they’re ready to rock.

If done properly, they will have a nutty sort of flavour. The connoisseurs recommend rolling them between your palms in order to break off the legs and antennae … which get in the way of having a truly awesome cricket-eating experience. But that’s a matter of personal taste.

What is indisputable is that – having tried this delicacy – you must tell your friends how awesome eating insects is. The future of the planet depends on it!

Richie is a Sydney based writer with sophistication, flair and hair. Aside from blogging and writing for Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he is also a new playwright who had his first play, ‘The Local’ performed last year at the Sydney Fringe Festival. He is also the wicketkeeper for the Gladstone Hotel Cricket Club and his favourite appliance is any 3D Blu-ray Home Theatre System that can be delivered to his house free-of-charge in the near future. He was the lead singer of Van Halen in 2002. Google+

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