Can I eat bugs??

Science for Youth June 03, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF


Beekeepers practice apiculture | Photo by Sarah Bernard

Yes, you can eat bugs! As long as you dont have a shellfish allergy, that is. In fact, you already eat insects and products made from insects every day and dont even notice.

You know that honey is made by bees. But did you know that natural red food dyes are made from tiny cochineal scale insects? Plus, insects we dont mean to eat sometimes get stuck in our foods during processing in food plants. There are even regulations that tell companies how many insects are allowed to be in our foods!

The practice of eating insects is called entomophagy. Insects are actually full of nutrients and are eaten all over the world. In many cultures, people eat everything from ants and termites to cicadas and moth larvae! Many people fry or bake insects. They may eat them plain or cover them in salt, chocolate, or spices before consuming. There are new businesses right here in North America that grind crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, and other insects into a powder to use in baking and in making buggy protein bars.

Insects are a great source of protein, iron, and zinc. Raising them for food can be easy and fun! Insects dont require much food or water, and you dont even need a lot of room to raise lots and lots of them. Insect farming is currently being promoted as a sustainable and ethical alternative to large-scale farming practices.

Watch this video to learn more about bug eating!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a great collection of infographics on the topic of entomophagy!

 

Author: Sarah Bernard, M.S. Entomologist, University of Florida

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.