5 Countries that Eat BUgs
Entomophagy (the practice of eating bugs) has prevailed around the world as a delicious and healthy habit. Although historically entomophagy has been considered taboo in the US, it is gaining popularity here as a more sustainable, healthier, and delicious form of protein. In fact, the United Nations has predicted that by 2030 the global edible insects market will be worth $8 billion – and the US is one of the fastest growing markets! As bugs become the hot new superfood in the US, let’s take a look at the way other cultures use them so we can learn how to make delicious, protein-rich dishes, too.
Lately entomophagy has been regaining popularity in Mexico. Common during Aztec rule, the habit fell out of popularity due to colonization. Now, some restaurants are even throwing bug festivals to celebrate the resurgence of the tradition. Across Mexico City in bars, markets, and restaurants you can find delicacies such as escamoles (ant eggs with a nutty flavor), chapulines (fried and seasoned grasshoppers), and gusanos de maguey (worms that taste like french fries, often found in quesadillas).
The streets of Thailand are full of food carts offering deep fried, salted bugs—just like potato chips (and often tasting like them, too). If you approach one you will likely find an array of crispy crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms, and bamboo worms. In touristy areas vendors are peddling scorpions-on-a-stick for the shock appeal. But hey, if they are popular with the tourists perhaps US sports stadiums should add “cricket jacks” to their peanut and cracker jack offerings.
In China 178 different bugs are served as food. On a stroll through one of Beijing’s night markets you will find scorpions, giant cicadas, locusts, and the ubiquitous cricket, all skewered and fried for eating. One of the most common (and cheapest) bug snacks in China is the roasted silkworm chrysalis. These insects are crunchy on the outside with a mashed potato texture on the inside and a buttery aftertaste. Sounds just like french fries, no? At fine dining restaurants you will find roasted or fried, nutrient-packed larvae. From street food to fine dining, bugs are on all sorts of Chinese menus, and no matter what they taste great!
The entomophagy craze has hit Australia! As in most countries, crickets are the most popular snack here, roasted over a fire and generously spiced. But honey-flavored ants, fried cockroaches and chocolate-covered mealworms are finding their way onto plates across the country for their taste and health benefits. Associates from the Insect Protein Association of Australia have stated that interest in this cuisine has been on an exponential rise in the past few years. It has even gotten to a point where vendors at food festivals struggle to keep up with demand! The Association is working to position Australia as a major player in the global bug industry. Here in the US, Mighty Cricket is also working on developing the global industry.
5. South Korea
As one of the most forward-thinking and trend-leading countries in Asia, the South Korean government has been promoting bugs as food for years now as an economic, environmental, and healthy source of nutrition. The South Korean Agriculture Ministry hosts tasting events with the most popular insect form, bug flour. (Psst: That’s exactly what we use at Mighty Cricket. Sounds like South Korea agrees we’re on trend!) Good news for bug farmers. The South Korean edible insect industry has over doubled since 2011, and it shows no signs of stopping.
These are just five of over 150 countries where entomophagy is practiced regularly, and its popularity is quickly growing. Humanity is realizing that insects are the next generation of protein, not just for environmental reasons but also for their amazing nutrition and flavors.
The Mighty Cricket team understands how tough it is to overcome the stigma of eating bugs. In fact, each one of us on the team was hesitant and squeamish at first. It’s true! But when we learned that 2 billion people around the world enjoy insects, we realized we were missing out on something huge. It’s like going our whole lives without ever trying a potato chip.
But don’t worry, Mighty Cricket doesn’t sell bugs on a stick. We mill all of our lightly roasted crickets into a super fine flour, and then we blend it into delicious foods like our Dark Chocolate Oatmeal. Now you get to experience the environmental and health benefits of insects (and overcome your fear) through a truly decadent, non-bugged out meal.