In recent years, demand for crickets as food has skyrocketed, and the crunchy little arthropods have become quite the fashionable snack. Numerous celebrities have publicly spoken about eating crickets, including Angelina Jolie, who revealed that her and her kids “eat them like Doritos.” Crickets are highly nutritious and have a lower environmental impact than more traditional types of meat, which probably explains the celebrity endorsements. Packets of fried, flavoured crickets are even starting to appear on the shelves of Western supermarkets, and the trend is likely to keep growing.
René Redzepi – the mind behind Noma, rated the world’s best restaurants – said in 2017 that Australian honey ants were the best thing he’d eaten all year. Indigenous peoples have been eating ants for thousands of years, but they are increasingly crossing over into modern Western cuisine. There are thousands of species of ants, some of which have incredibly unique flavours, meaning chefs will have plenty of room to experiment when incorporating the insects into their cooking.
If you’ve ever dealt with an infestation of termites trying to eat your house, you might be pleased to learn that revenge is on the menu. Roasted termites are increasingly appearing on the shelves of health food stores, and they apparently taste delicious. Termites are also an excellent source of protein and healthy nutrients such as vitamin b12, making them the perfect snack for health-conscious consumers.
In 2021, the European Food Safety Authority ruled that mealworms are safe for human consumption, paving the way for the segmented bugs to be sold commercially. Businesses have already begun cashing in, with companies like Eat Grub selling bags of mealworms that can be roasted at home, whilst other companies sell them pre-roasted and flavoured. Plain mealworms are described as having a flavour not dissimilar to almonds, and the bugs can be roasted, fried, or eaten raw – although that last option is not for the faint of heart.
Don’t let the name put you off. As long as they are prepared properly, stink bugs have a flavour that is described as similar to fresh apple. The bugs have been eaten as a delicacy in parts of Africa and Asia for thousands of years, and as the global interest in edible insects grows their consumption is becoming more widespread. Before cooking, live stinkbugs are placed into warm water, which causes them to release their pungent defensive chemicals. The bugs are then boiled or fried and eaten whole.
Apart from crickets, grasshoppers are the most commonly consumed insect in Western countries. This is largely thanks to companies like Bugvita, who sell packets of roasted grasshoppers in a range of flavours including sriracha and bbq sauce. Grasshoppers – which naturally taste a bit like prawn when they haven’t been flavoured – can be easily ordered from online retailers like Amazon, or found on the shelves of high street health food stores.
Maguey worms are a species of caterpillar that infest Agave cacti, burrowing into the roots and eventually killing the plant. The worms are considered a delicacy in Mexico, where they are deep-fried before being seasoned with salt, lime, and spices, and used as a filling for tortillas. Maguey worms are increasingly appearing on the menus of authentic Mexican restaurants outside of Mexico, exposing a larger audience to the traditional delicacy.
The thought of something that’s come out of a cockroach coming anywhere near your Cornflakes might fill you with disgust, but a quick glance at the milk’s nutritional profile might make you reconsider. Researchers have discovered that the milk – which is yellow and can be harvested from female cockroaches – might be one of the most nutritious substances on the planet. As well as being packed full of protein, cockroach milk contains high levels of healthy vitamins and minerals, and is already being hailed as the next superfood.
In 2013, giant swarms of locusts descended on Israel, decimating the country’s agricultural sector. Some people, however, decided to capitalise on the carnage, and began selling locusts as food. Like crickets, the insects can be roasted, flavoured and sold in sealable bags. Locust has become a popular Israeli snack, which many continue to enjoy, and the bugs are starting to find appreciation from Western consumers as well.
Scorpions might look menacing, but their flavour – which has been described as a bit like popcorn, crab, and prawn – is sure to win over apprehensive consumers. A popular street food in Southeast Asian nations, scorpions are likely to begin appearing more frequently in Western cuisine. The creepy crawlies are perfectly safe to eat, but it’s important to remove the stinger and venom glands before cooking.