In many cultures, entomophagy is widely practiced. Entomophagy is the consumption of insects as food. Around two billion people worldwide eat insects such as worms, crickets, and cockroaches. More than 50 countries in Africa and in the Americas are feeding on insects.
As of May of 2013, the UN Food And Agriculture Organization is urging the public to insect farming for human consumption. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization points out that there are almost 2,000 edible insects that populate the earth. Let’s find out 10 of them that are actually edible and reportedly palatable.
Beetles are among the most popular insects harvested for food by almost 80% of countries in the world. They are the world’s most widely eaten insects, usually in the larval stage. Beetles are popular in the Amazon as snacks and in Africa and other regions with dense forest and underbrush.
Dung beetles are great sources of protein offering 17.2 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. Certain species of beetles are also used as ingredients in many foods, such as for food coloring. The FDA now requires companies to list beetles as ingredients if they have been used in production.
Mealworms are 2.5 cm. edible larvae of the Darkling Beetle or Tenebrio Molitor. Some mealworm farmers use hormones-rich food for the mealworms, to keep them in the larval stage, so they can reach a larger size. Mealworms are great sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. According to some people, the insects give a nutty and moist texture when added to breakfast oatmeal. Mealworms soaked in tequila are perfect candy snacks paired with apples and carrots. They can also be grilled or eaten raw.
Grasshoppers from the insect species Caelifera and are cousins to the locusts, make a popular food in Africa, China, Japan, and Mexico. The Mexican chapulines, (grasshoppers) are being thoroughly cleaned, washed then toasted, and flavored with onions, garlic, and other spices. In the Middle East, they are boiled in water and salt and left in the sun to dry, they make for a popular snack. The insects are also popular street food in Asia.
Countries like Japan, China, and Korea, harvested rice field grasshoppers for food. In China, they are typically skewered and marinated in a sauce. The “imago” is a favorite delicacy in Japan, seasoned with several spices. In Africa where food is scarce, people rely on “serene” or grasshoppers as good sources of proteins and fats, they are eaten in soups.
According to some reports ants have a sweet, nutty flavor, they are typically served in salads and main dishes. Even restaurants in London and Copenhagen have made use of them in many of their menus. Some are served drizzled in a lemon citrusy sauce for salads. Ants are packed with nutrients, they are as nutritious as eggs.
100 grams of red ants for instance give 14 grams of protein, 48 grams of calcium, multiple vitamins and minerals, and less than 100 calories. Belgian snacks and desserts are incorporated with Leafcutter Ants, known to boost energy. Chocolate covered ants are popular candy snacks or desserts. Toasted queen leafcutter ants are made for a tasty delicacy in Colombia.
6- Water Bugs
Mexico have great recipes for different kinds of water bug species known as backswimmers, water boatmen or water beetles. The insects make a popular Mexican delicacy, that reportedly taste similarly to scallops. Water beetles are usually stripped of their shells and then fried or roasted. The Mexican version of the western caviars, are water bugs’ eggs typically harvested from stems of vegetation in fresh and saltwater sources.
The eggs are described as having a reported shrimp flavor when eaten as caviar and reportedly a fishy flavor when eaten fresh. Water bugs are also very popular in Asian cuisines, they can be eaten toasted, fried, sauteed, or boiled. Interestingly these bugs may look similar to the cockroaches we found in filthy places, but these are the ones not meant for eating of course. yikes!
5- Stink Bugs
The six-legged insects, also known as stink bugs usually have oval shapes and carts around a shield on their back. They typically emit a foul odor as a defensive mechanism. For many cultures, stink bugs are excellent food sources, they are made into a paste or sauce. A stink bug is an excellent source of iodine.
In Mexico, children and adults alike hunt the little creatures under logs and stones, bag them, eat them raw or ground them into a paste to be used in salsa. In African countries such as Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia they are often used in stews. They could also be sun-dried and eaten as snacks, or fried and served with spices.
Bees, wasps and ants play vital roles in pollination, and are essential to the human race. Just like the ants, bees reportedly have a nutty flavor, they are usually eaten in their larval or egg stage. Japanese stores sell the stingless variety of bees in can. Hachinoko, is a canned “baby bees,” a popular Japanese delicacy and according to sources, have a sweet, piney, smoky taste. Baby bees dishes are popular in Asia, Africa, South America, Mexico and Australia.
In the Congo, food such as poultry, fish and beef can be expensive, but caterpillars provide an excellent alternative. Harvesting caterpillars is very popular and lucrative business in southern Africa, it has become a multimillion dollar industry. Caterpillars are usually boiled in salt water and then sun dried, they can last refrigerated for several months. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, caterpillars are rich in iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese and copper.
Termites, also known as white ants in Australia, provide an excellent food source with a whopping 14.2 grams of protein per 100 gram serving. In Africa, termites are lightly fried and sold in marketplaces. During the rainy season, they’re harvested, fried and served roasted with various spices, the after product is nutty, crunchy and nutritious. Termites are also good sources of colorless oil for frying. Protein content of termites is on the same level as dried saltfish.
Scorpions are not exactly insects, but we have included them on this list anyway. The family of scorpions called the Buthidae have lethal stings that could kill humans. The non-venomous kind of stingers are being eaten in many cultures. The eight-legged arthropod comes in many palatable dishes, candy even.
In Beijing, scorpions are popularly served fried, skewered and as a kebab. Fried scorpion as a traditional dish originates in Shandong, China. Chinese also make use of scorpion wine as alternative medicine. For westerners, skewered scorpions are not popular but one can find chocolate-covered scorpions or scorpions encased in candy coating and lollipops.