In a year of cancelled TV shows, we couldn’t be more excited about the return of I’m a Celebrity. And it’s in Wales! Does that mean bush tucker trials with twrch coed (Welsh for tree hog, as in woodlouse) and Siâni flewog (furry Jenny – caterpillar) we wonder?
Let’s face it, you can’t think of I’m a Celeb without going straight to bug eating. But it begs the question – are the celebrities ahead of the game by tucking into crickets and worms? We reveal the truth about eating insects, as well as how to try them now.
First off, humans have been eating creepy crawlies for thousands of years and in many cultures it’s a very normal thing to do. A delicacy even. So it’s not that weird at all really.
With worldwide food demand predicted to grow more than 50% by 2050, attention is turning to entomophagy (insect eating) to help meet this need in a more sustainable way.
The fact is bug farming is far better for the planet. It uses fewer resources (land, water and feed) than traditional livestock farming and produces much less greenhouse gases.
OK, so what insects can humans eat?
There are a whopping variety of edible insects, over 1900 as identified by the Food and Agriculture Organization in fact. The most common are beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, butterflies, moths, termites and cicadas.
Once you get your head around the idea of munching on bugs, they’re meant to taste pretty good. Nutty, earthy or with a hint of fish depending on what you eat and how it’s prepared.
But is it safe?
Insect farming for human consumption is a regulated industry so the same food safety rules apply as for any other livestock.
A word of caution: those with an allergy to seafood, crustaceans and dust mites will most likely also be intolerant to insects. It’s also worth checking what the insects are fed (wheat, cereals, soy) in case this could cause a problem for you.
And is it actually good for you?
Insects have pretty impressive health and nutrition creds. They’re low in calories, high in calcium, vitamin B12 and omegas, and contain all nine amino acids. They’re also good for the gut thanks to something called chitin.
Bugs are also a great source of protein. Buffalo worms and mealworms are usually between 54% and 56% protein, while dried crickets can be up to 64% protein (three times higher than beef!). Food for thought, surely?
Can I try it now?
Insects are already on the menu in some UK restaurants. You can also buy products made with insects such as cricket flour and pasta, bug granola, lollies and protein bars – all just a click away on the web.
A step up from that is to source fresh or dried insects from online retailers to make dishes from scratch at home. You can even grow your own edible bugs with an all-you-need kit.
Once you have your supply, kick things off with a mealworm burger. When all the ingredients are mixed together and grilled, it just looks like a tasty burger. And check out these simple mealworm tacos.
Tempted to find out for more? Then pop an insect cookbook on your Christmas list. Hop to it!