Loving bugs shows respect for our planet. It’s all about your footprint. And shrinking that footprint down to the size of tiny centipede feet tucked into wee shoes means you’re on a winning streak. There are many ways to love bugs, especially in cooking. Are you an entomophage?
What’s an entomophage, you ask? If you’ve travelled to populated places outside of North America, you’ve likely tasted some interesting and unusual ingredients. If the local language was unfamiliar, chances are you unwittingly ate some interesting food components. That would make you an entomophage!
We’re talking “bugs”—significantly tiny to raise and grow and yet substantially massive in healthy returns. Given that a big part of our planet is massively populated and that the human need for protein is equally massive, the production of bugs, otherwise called microlivestock, but also known as minilivestock, is enormously important.
The growth in this food sector is so great that it’s hopped its way onto plates in North America. Here, entomology, or bug culture, among chefs is now competing with forensic sciences to claim centre of the plate.
One example of this healthy trend is cricket powder. Extremely high in protein, providing 13 g per 2 Tbsp (30 mL), cricket powder is a highly nutritious superfood. The production of cricket protein leaves just a tiny footprint compared to raising beef, pork, or chicken. This relatively new pursuit is alive and growing in Canada.
In other parts of the world, though, eating bugs in various forms has been commonplace since time began.
Mexico? Head into the interior regions, and you’ll find a variety of respectable bugs that are commonly made into a meal. Chocolate-covered grasshoppers and candy-covered worms are a definite delicacy.
Thailand? Fried bugs are a regular appetizer on most menus, coupled with tea or a beer. And sidewalk vendors offer up crispy insects such as grasshopper, woodworm, bamboo worm, and water beetles.
Ghana, Africa? We might have expected that Ghanaians might consume insects, but did you know that bugs account for up to 90 percent of the required protein in rural Africans’ diets? Yes, 90 percent!
And in China? Larvae, from bees or silkworms, is commonplace on restaurant menus, while ant soup offers a warm boost in colder weather.
Recognizing the need for an alternative health-sustaining protein in North America, we’re beginning to see the value of a cricket well beyond its evening chirp. Today, we can easily purchase crickets whole or dried and milled into powder, providing immensely valuable protein.
This isn’t the only bug being ground into a high-protein powder that we can add to our diets and recipes. But for our latest recipes, we’ve taken a minilivestock leap into the world of entomophagy by incorporating cricket powder into some deliciously chipper recipes. Truthfully, you can’t tell the difference—other than the extra spring of energy in your step.
Did you know that, worldwide, people eat about 2,000 different types of insects? Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population eats bugs or byproducts containing bug meal. It’s catching on here in the West, too, with the added benefit of reducing our carbon footprint. Remember when frogs’ legs were considered a novelty?
If you’re looking to expand your palate with a variety of edible bugs and bug products, look no further than online order sites. There are plenty of selections and a wide range of serving ideas.
Black ants and black ant powder
It’s suggested that dried black ants have a slightly citrusy flavour. Sprinkle on pasta and pretend it’s caviar laced with lemon. Or stir into your favourite energy bar recipe to up the nutrient quotient.
Some restaurants in North America are blazing an entomophagous trail with scorpions. If you want to give them a try for yourself, consider ordering from an online supplier. They’ll likely come already fried, so you can just chop and sprinkle over your hors d’oeuvres. Quite a conversation starter!
Crickets and cricket powder
Definitely a Canadian superfood destined for all sorts of tasty applications. Try our recipes and then take a cricket leap of your own by experimenting to create your own cricket creations.
Whole roasted mealworms or larvae
A delicious, crispy snack perfect when dusted with spices and garlic. Pack a bag of “spiced-up” larvae—great energy for a mountain hike. Be a trailblazer!