Five Ways to Start Eating Insects

The idea may be hard to swallow, but crickets and mealworms will likely be part of our sustainable food future

Fried insects, anyone? (© Steven Vidler/Corbis)
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In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, crispy, chili-spiced chapulines (grasshoppers) are a common bar snack. Bee and wasp larvae are part of the indigenous cuisines of Taiwan and Japan. Stir-fried beef and ants is a traditional Khmer dish in Cambodia, witchetty grubs have sustained many generations of Aboriginal Australians. Insects, after all, are a source of sustainable protein.

Here are a number of new companies and products trying to make eating insects a more palatable prospect in the West, where the idea of ingesting “creepy crawlies” is still fairly taboo.

Raise Mealworms On Your Countertop

With the Livin Farms Hive, you can “start the next big food revolution out of your kitchen” by growing protein-rich mealworms on your desk or counter. The hive, which resembles those stackable, dorm-friendly plastic drawers, can produce up to 500 grams of mealworms per week.

Each drawer contains a different stage of the mealworm’s lifecycle. Mealworm pupae are placed in the hive’s top drawer, where they mature into beetles and lay eggs. The eggs drop down through a filter to a lower drawer and eventually hatch into mealworm babies. The babies grow to an edible size (about 3 centimeters long) and are collected in the bottom drawer. Some will transform back into pupae, and those can be put back in the top to start the cycle over again.

Once a week, you feed the mealworms vegetable scraps and harvest those that are plump enough to eat. According to the hive's creators, mealworms have a “bit of a nutty flavor” and make excellent crispy snacks or burger patties. Now in preorder, the hives are expected to retail for about $700. 

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