20 things you need to know about eating insects – and why you should do it

Creepy-crawlies probably aren’t top of your favourite snacks list, but eating them is becoming increasingly popular. Here’s what you need to know about eating bugs.

Fancy a snack, but there’s nothing in? How about nibbling on an insect or 10 like they do on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here?

Though not (yet) a common diet in the Western world, entomophagy, or the eating of insects, is enjoyed by at least two billion people across the globe.

The practice has been around for tens of thousands of years, and although you may not like the sound of it, with a growing population, increasing demand for meat and a global protein shortage, edible bugs are likely to appear more and more on people’s plates.

Indeed, because of the protein shortage, high demand for meat and animal agriculture’s high environmental cost, the UN is urging people to eat insects. And let’s face it, there are plenty of them to go around.

If you’re still not convinced, the good news is that insects including ants and crickets are said to be delicious (really!), and are highly nutritious. 

20 edible insect facts

1. Insects are 88% edible, compared to just 40% for pork and beef.

2. They’re rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

3. There are more than 1,900 edible insects to choose from. Crunchy, chewy or gooey?

4. Wasps, bees and ants contain 13-77g of protein per 100g, and beetles contain 23-66g of protein per 100g, compared with cooked red meat which contains 27-35g of protein per 100g Eggs contain 13g, and chicken 23g.

5. Due to their sour lemon-like flavour, worker ants are the perfect condiments for fish dishes, apparently.

6. Beetles are the most popular insect delicacy, accounting for 31% of all insects eaten.

7. Bees, wasps, and ants make up 14% of edible bugs, and 18% are caterpillars. Only 2% are flies.

8. A third of the world’s population eats insects regularly.

9. High in protein and low in fat, ‘soft and aggy’ wasp larvae has been mooted as the new caviar.

10. Deep fried crickets with soy sauce and pepper are said to taste like shrimps.

11. There are plenty of insect recipes on the internet – you can try pest-o pizza, spread with pesto, ants and grasshoppers, or how about chocolate mealworm cookies?

12. If you don’t fancy catching your own tasty insects, there are UK websites on which you can buy them freeze-dried, such as Grub

13. Grasshoppers have a delicate nutty flavour, perfect for roasting or deep-frying.

14. If you want a healthy alternative to crisps, you can buy freeze-dried grasshoppers to eat straight from the packet as an on-the-go snack.

15. Before cooking, remove insect legs and wings.

16. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you may be allergic to insects too.

17. Insects release less greenhouse gas emissions than most livestock.

18. Insects require significantly less land to harvest, and 2,000 times less water than cows to produce.

19. Insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein

20. Insects play a vital role in waste biodegradation, and help reduce environmental contamination.

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