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Eating Insects

Eating Insects

Cricket pies, fried grasshoppers and mealworm quiche: Welcome to the new culinary delights. Or so hopes Arnold van Huis, an entomology professor in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Van Huis is working to bring a range of entomological appetizers to the market.

Why should we eat insects?
Arnold van Huis: “While the world population is growing and our global wealth is advancing, meat consumption is rising dramatically. Currently, 70 percent of farmland is being used for meat production. If this trend continues, it will prove unsustainable. Moreover, livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane and nitrous oxide. Insects have a much lower environmental burden, while their nutritional value measures up to chicken or beef.”

Don’t they taste awful?
“That depends on how you prepare the dish. I’m not so wild about cakes made using crushed flies from East Africa–a couple of which I have at home–but sautéed crickets in a warm chocolate dip make a great snack.”

Isn’t it primitive to eat insects?
“It’s quite normal for most of the world. In tropical countries, people don’t eat caterpillars, beetle larvae, grasshoppers and termites because they don’t have a choice but because they taste good. Plus insects are high in protein and have essential fatty acids and important vitamins. Which is why food programs in developing countries should increase their focus on insects. Currently, vegetable consumption is emphasized, but it’s much more efficient to get nutrients from animals. Because traditional meat is often too expensive, insects could be a very good alternative.”

Isn’t the psychological barrier in the West simply too great?
“The first time you bite into a grasshopper might be a little ‘hard to swallow.’ But there are ways to handle this. Insects can be ground industrially so they’re less recognizable, just as a filet doesn’t really resemble a particular animal. There are some 1,400 edible insects, which can enrich and diversify our food supply.”

Banana Worm Bread

Compliments of Iowa State University Entomology Club


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms

Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Mealworm Fried Rice
Compliments of Iowa State University Entomology Club


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. chopped onions
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. minute rice
  • 1 c. cooked mealworms

Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces. Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes.


Rootworm Beetle Dip
Compliments of Iowa State University Entomology Club


  • 2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Beau Monde
  • 1 cup dry-roasted rootworm beetles

Blend first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and chill.

Ant Brood Tacos
Compliments of


  • 2 tablespoons butter or peanut oil
  • 1/2 pound ant larvae and pupae
  • 3 serrano chilies, raw, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cumin, to taste
  • Oregano, to taste
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • Taco shells, to serve

Heat the butter or oil in a frying pan and fry the larvae or pupae. Add the chopped onions, chilies, and tomato, and season with salt. Sprinkle with ground pepper, cumin, and oregano, to taste. Serve in tacos and garnish with cilantro. (Not living in an area exceptionally prolific with ants, I have never been able to try this recipe. But it sounds perfectly delicious! I found it in ‘Creepy Crawly Cuisine’, an excellent recipe book.)

By Marco Visscher, Ode Magazine

Read more: Do Good, Food, Health, News & Issues,

By Marco Visscher, Ode Magazine

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Ode, the magazine for Intelligent Optimists, is an international independent journal that publishes positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better.


+ add your own
5:59AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

i think we will all be surprised what we eat if hungry enough..

5:47AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

it's a utopian vision to think that all (or only most) of the population can become vegan... thus insects are probably the best alternative to beef pork and chicken!
it would be great if to eat insects would be no longer a taboo also in western countries.
personally i don't find it easy to imagine crunching a roach or swallowing ants... but i will get over it :)

2:31AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

i don't think care2 really avocate veganism..that is a delusional statement

2:16AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

I thought care2 advocated veganism?

7:18AM PST on Feb 12, 2011

I really don't think I could bring myself to eat insects,I get sick just looking at them up close,(not their fault) I actually vomit looking at some of them, some sort of phobia I guess, so eating them is out of the question, some meat products affect me the same way.

7:40AM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

I'm interested to know where I could find a store that would sell insects/aphids (in particular) in Toronto/Mississauga Canada area for consumption? Dried or other wise? Asian markets? herbalists? etc etc Serious inquiry. Thanks John

3:05PM PDT on Jun 19, 2010

Fried grasshoppers sound like tasty maybe I can try to eat that.

5:54PM PDT on May 5, 2010

Wasn't this guy on Colbert awhile back. Thanks, but I think I'll pass on the bug-eating for now.

6:57PM PST on Feb 24, 2010

no thank u! although i must say, there are more than enough bugs in this world so i think our supply certainly wouldn't run out...

11:08PM PST on Feb 19, 2010

Wow! Thanks Diane v.!

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