Are you ready to eat insects? We used to sift the mealworms out of flour. Now, I guess we should release them into a frying pan as an alternate source of protein. Whether we do, or don’t, embrace this trend will come down to whether we’re ready to eat insects.
I’m not sure why this idea seems foreign. We eat all sorts of things that are gross when you sit and think about them – hearts, livers, intestines, brains. We consume a tasty rind on cheese without a second thought even though it may have live mites in it. We drink wine enhanced by the fungus Botrytis cinerea and serve it with salami dry-cured using penicillium. And yet when my sister noticed that the reason for the high protein content of the protein bar she was eating was crickets, she put it down…in the trash can.
Humans are weird creatures. We’ll eat food full of harmful chemicals we can’t pronounce but avoid natural foods that are healthy because we can’t get our mind around eating bugs. Makes you wonder if our minds work right.
Perhaps the best introduction of a new protein is in something sweet like a brownie or cookie. Or how about a gummy? Biblical Protein sells strawberry gummies made of locusts.
Insect protein doesn’t have to stand on its own. It can be combined with traditional protein sources like beef or chicken. If grasshoppers truly have a nutty, mushroom flavor, they probably won’t stand out in many dishes as anything other than additional depth of flavor.
One concern for those of us with food allergies and sensitivities will be whether our system can tolerate these new proteins. In one study, 94% of participants that reported having prior allergies, also reported symptoms indicative of an allergic reaction after consuming grasshoppers and water bugs seemed to be the most likely insect of those studied to cause an allergic reaction.
I don’t know whether food sensitivity also increases the chance of an adverse reaction to adding insect protein to your diet. There will continue to be studies and anecdotal reports to follow as our knowledge base increases.
Even if you’re not ready to consider alternate sources of protein right now, I believe there will be an increasing number of products containing them available. It will be interesting to see whether how these products compare in taste, texture, and price to plant-based alternatives as well as to traditional protein sources.
If you’re adventurous, adding a little ground fly larvae to the kid’s cookies could be fun! And early introduction may be the best way for the population to get ready to eat insects.
I can’t really imagine moving to insect protein in 2023, but now is a great time to begin reviewing habits and determining the changes we are willing to embrace. And insect protein is something to keep an eye on, especially for us label readers.
Am I ready to eat insects? Not today, but I’m not ruling it out in the future.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”