People have been engaging in entomophagy – that is, the practice of eating insects – for millennia. In fact, eating bugs is still a common practice in some parts of the world, although western cultures tend to frown upon it because of the “ick factor,” says Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office. Intentional or not, consuming insects is unavoidable – small amounts of bug parts make it into our processed foods. But that’s okay, says Brown, because insects are good for you.
Are there benefits to eating bugs?
“Insects are a great source of protein. It’s easier to get the protein by raising a lot of these different types of insects than it is by say, cows, pigs, chickens, things like that. It takes less resources, less energy. So it is a more sustainable method.”
What kinds of bugs do people eat?
“In parts of the world they’ll eat grasshoppers, scorpions, tarantulas, ants, termites, grubs – which are beetle larvae. There’s just all sorts of stuff that you can consume if you chose to do so.”
But what is this about bugs already being in my food?!
“There are insects in your processed food that is regulated. So if you think about a lot of the foods we eat, insects are also going to be eating those while we’re growing them. And when we process them, the insects are going to want to be feeding, so its impossible, really, to keep all insects out of our every day food sources … It’s obviously not doing us harm and it’s a great source that’s available.”