Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about why insects should be incorporated into our diets. It makes perfect sense, but when I bring it up I’m often met with disgust. But why?
Like all aspects of culture, we become accustomed to particular ways of doing things, often seeing alternatives as the wrong or inferior way. When it comes to eating, we have a sanitized, convenient relationship to food. It is clean, bright, and orderly. We embrace the grocery store as the proper food source, expecting meat to come wrapped in shiny plastic, cereal in brightly-colored boxes, or yogurt in single servings.
This sanitized approach divides us from alternate food sources that may benefit humanity and the earth, such as the practice of eating insects. Many cultures eat insects throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In fact, about two billion people eat insects throughout the world, and the United Nations even reports that incorporating insects into our diets could revolutionize our food system. Insects are high in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Raising insects for consumption also has a much lower environmental impact than raising other protein-based food sources.
But many Americans see this custom as backward. As we consistently use food to define who we are as a culture, insects threaten a supposedly solid sense of modern identity. I predict, however, that in the next few years as more and more people search for alternatives to our failing food system we will begin to see insects on our plates. And not just E. coli and salmonella.
This TED-Ed video “Should We Eat Bugs?” popped onto my radar the other day. It nicely summarizes the argument for eating insects, so check it out if you want to learn more. Bon appétit!