What insects are edible and safe to eat?

Very popular in Asia, in Africa and Latin America, edible insects arrive on our plates. To prepare yourself or ready to eat, they represent an original way to explore the culinary culture of the world. Overview of this food rich in protein.

What is entomophagy?

Entomophagy is the consumption of insects by humans. This tradition ancestral is particularly practiced on the Asian, Latin American and African continent. Thais are crazy about this food, especially the beetles sold en masse in the markets. Whether caterpillars, bedbugs or ants, close to 2000 species are regularly eaten by two and a half billion people on the planet. Their consumption in Europe has been developing for about ten years and there is now a large choice of edible insects in specialized shops or on online sales sites.

Why eat edible insects?

Followers of entomophagy attribute many virtues consumption of insects, including:

  • Excellent qualities nutritional. Insects are naturally rich in protein (72%) sources of minerals (iron, zinc, calcium), fiber, omega 3 and 6 and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. This type of food contains all the essential amino acids while having a low content of lipids (16%) and carbohydrates (12%);
  • A reduced environmental impact. Insect farms produce up to a hundred times less greenhouse gases than meat farms. At the same time, they respond to current global challenges: they are inexpensive, consume fewer resources (water and food), require little space and benefit from a yield Student. The products sold come exclusively from farms dedicated to edible insects, which Thailand has made the specialty of. By avoiding air transport, insects reared in France have the advantage of reducing their carbon impact.

Which insects are good to eat?

The cricket and the mealworm are very popular but as seen above, nearly 2000 species are eaten around the world, among which we can mention the beetle, caterpillar, wasp, ant, grasshopper, locust, cicada, cochineal, bug, termite, dragonfly, cockroach, butterfly, the fly or the mosquito. When buying, check with the seller and prefer insects that have been fed natural and not croquettes. Depending on the species, the diet includes various plants: herbs, foliage, fruits, vegetables … In no case should you eat an insect. wild picked up in the wild or in your garden as it may be infested with bacteria or parasites and may also have consumed fertilizer, pesticides, organic waste that makes them unfit for consumption, even dangerous for the man.

What do edible insects taste like?

Culinary experts believe that the taste of insects can hardly be equated with a familiar flavor. Of the vast number of edible species, each has a characteristic scent, only describable by distant comparison. For many, insects tend to taste like nuts, especially when grilled. This is the case of the cricket, whose crispy texture can also remind you of popcorn. The taste of mealworm is more like hazelnut, bacon for red termites and potato for crickets. Others find in the cricket a scent of shrimp, and almonds for its larvae. Water bugs are said to have a sweeter odor, similar to fruits such as melon or bananas. The acidity of some ants is reminiscent of lemon, while the boiled silkworm is reminiscent of butter from peanuts. Raw ant eggs have a juicy texture and taste of milk and when cooked they smell like cheese. In short, each consumer has a different sensation.

How are edible insects prepared?

There are a multitude of recipes that make these foods appetizing. In Africa, people like to eat dried, boiled, smoked or grilled caterpillars. In Mexico, escamoles are considered a very refined : these giant ant larvae can be sautéed in butter or served in a tacos with guacamole. Chapulines, locusts of the genus Sphenarium, are also a popular dish when fried with chili, garlic, and lemon juice to create a bitter-spicy-salty taste. In Japan, locusts are usually cooked with sauce soy. The most consumed insect in the world, the locust has a weak flavor that must therefore be spiced up with spices or a sauce of your choice.

Are there ready-to-eat insects?

In France, you will easily find insect aperitif boxes grilled and available in multiple flavors. Crickets, locusts, mealworms are offered in particular with a curry flavor, barbecue, turmeric, paprika, smoked onion, Cayenne pepper, Provence herbs… Note that there are also versions sweet. You will find crickets with red fruits, locusts with cocoa, mealworms coated with chocolate or salted butter caramel. Gourmets will feast on lollipops or candies containing ants, locusts and crickets flavored with strawberry, apple or orange. If you are new to entomophagy, choose small insects or insects with subtle flavors such as mealworms. When your palate is sharpened, you can take the bolder step of scorpions and other tarantulas!

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