Would You Like Flies With That?
Just as many people in the developing world are developing a taste for beef, perhaps it’s time for those of us raised on ruminants to start eating insects.
There might be a yuck factor to overcome, but westerners have taken to raw fish with gusto (how did we survive without sushi and sashimi?), and creepy-crawlies have a lot going for them.
With a good profile of protein, good fats and even fibre and minerals, insects should appeal to the health-conscious. But replacing our beef, lamb and fish with bugs will also do the planet a big favour, and to top it off, it sounds like they taste pretty good too. (Confession – the only insects I’ve eaten were some chocolate-coated ants. They tasted… pretty much like chocolate).
Insects are far more efficient than mammals at converting their food into edible protein and fat, and they don’t belch out copious quantities of greenhouse gasses. Compare that to beef, which comes with a carbon price tag of 30 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents for each kg of meat. Insect protein also has a much lower water footprint than most animal-sourced protein.
There are, apparently, more than 1,900 edible species of insect. Hundreds are already on the menu with 80% of the global population living in countries where insects are regularly eaten. Jennifer Holland’s short list of bugs to eat even includes dung beetles and stink bugs (they might need a bit of a marketing makeover).
Australia already has a proud history of eating insects. Witchetty grubs and Bogong moths were both important foods for Aborigines that occasionally find their way onto modern menus, and like many insects, they are described as having a nutty taste. How good does “a nutty, crisp, popcorn flavour, like buttered hazelnut” sound?
But what do you do if you want to reduce your food footprint but aren’t quite up to chomping into a raw witchetty grub, a juicy moth plucked fresh from the window sill or maggoty cheese? Pat Crowley of Chapul may have the solution for you – Cricket Bars.
To address the psychological barrier to eating insects, Chapul grinds crickets into a flour that is mixed with other ingredients to make a nutritious bar. No wings, heads or legs to deal with.
At the moment the production rate is modest, but demand is growing. So maybe the day isn’t too far away when you can order a dung beetle burger and expect to be asked “would you like flies with that?”