Photo: Kidsada Manchinda / Getty

Meet the newest protein on the block.

Hayley Sugg
April 21, 2017

Many people look at insects and think, "Creepy!" But in 50 years you may be saying, "Tasty!" 

While the consumption of bugs is commonplace across the world (an estimated 2 billion people regularly eat them), it's still a new concept to Western civilizations. Popularity is definitely growing though, with at least seven restaurants currently serving insects in New York City. If eating whole bugs, commonly served as crunchy appetizers or sometimes wrapped up in a taco, doesn't appeal to you, there are also cricket-based products like flour or baking mixes.

Plenty of people will buy bug-based dishes for the freak-out factor alone or because it's Instagram-worthy, but there's a whole slew of other reasons that insects should become a regular part of our food supply:

Environmental Impact

When the word 'protein' is mentioned, traditional meats like chicken or beef come to mind for most. But livestock and poultry farming takes a great environmental toll and consumes large amounts of precious resources like water and grain. House crickets contain 93g of protein per pound, while beef only slightly outweighs it at 117g per pound. The huge difference between these two proteins is the resources used to produce them. Cattle require four times as much feed to produce the same amount of meat as crickets, and while 80 percent of the cricket meat is edible, only 40 percent of the cattle is. Pair that with the fact that bugs require less water and space than other livestock, and insects will almost always come out on top environmentally when compared to other meat sources.

Health

Rich in protein, amino acids, and omega-3s, insects might be one of the healthiest food sources around. While they're usually consumed as a sustainable source of protein, bugs also have the benefits of containing healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Nutritional profiles differ between species, but each has their own unique advantages. In comparison to traditional meat sources, insects also are low in calories and fat. One hundred grams of crickets contains 121 calories and 5.5g of fat, while 100g of beef contains 250 calories and 15g of fat. 

DIY

You may dream of homesteading, but living in a studio apartment in Brooklyn might put a damper on those plans. The good thing about insects is that they're easy to raise practically anywhere. You really only need a few items, and the right thermostat setting, to create your own bug farm and almost unlimited source of healthy protein. Start by buying insects from a reputable (human-safe) dealer and store them at home in a ventilated container. Keep your home or apartment warm enough to keep them alive, and then you can officially start calling yourself an "Insect Farmer". When it's time to eat, placing bugs in the freezer will quickly kill them before cooking.