Never tried eating insects? Here’s some very important things to remember!
1) Be Safe!
- Insects may cause allergic reactions in people allergic to shellfish or dust. Edible Insects, like most other common foods, will sometimes cause allergic reactions. Many insects are similar to other crustaceans, and have similar proteins in their exoskeletons. Research is ongoing into the reasons why some people have these allergic reactions, and which species can cause them. Please be safe, and make sure friends and family do not have these food allergies before they try insects. Let’s be safe, not sorry! Again, please be very clear: Little Herds currently suggests consulting your physician before trying edible insects if you have a shellfish, seafood, dust or dustmite allergy.
- You should always know where your insects come from. Insects can be farmed, or wild-harvested, and both can have their place in our global food system…but we always recommend safety first, and encourage you to use insects farmed for human consumption if this is your first time trying edible insects.
- Always cook your insects! No eating raw or live insects. We’re not at the point yet to try sushi-grade insects…so let’s be safe and cook our bugs! We’re still trying to find research that points to a minimum temperature to ensure safety, but in the meantime treat it like any other meat and make sure it’s cooked! For instance, The Bug Chef recommends baking crickets at 225F for 20 minutes or until crispy.
2) Be Kind!
- Be kind to others. It’s OK not to try edible insects. We know that the idea is strange, new and sometimes even scary for plenty of folks here in the USA and in other parts of the world. Remember that everybody has an individual food history, and insects may not be part of it yet. Encourage others to try entomophagy, but don’t push it on somebody who doesn’t want to try it. There’s no shame in entomophagy; some people don’t like seafood; some folks might not eat pork, or beef; others don’t like avocados, or broccoli, or cilantro…and that’s ok! Insects are a food like any other, and not everybody is going to like it.
- Be kind to the animals, they’re living creatures too. With edible insects, we can have a new type of livestock that’s more humane than any other animal we’ve domesticated for food. Insects can be reared in conditions amenable to their natural behaviors and in line with the 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare. They can also be harvested in what many consider a humane fashion. For many of the farms we’ve seen, once the insects are at their harvesting age the temperature is lowered until the insects go into a natural hibernation state, and then expire without a change in state or violent death. Many farms even report that stress can affect the health and flavor of the insects. Happy insects are tasty insects!
- Be kind to the planet. Edible insects can be farmed using vastly fewer resources than many other types of livestock. As stewards of our planet, we should try to grow our food in sustainable ways. Insect farming could be a way to feed our planet and take care of it too.
3) Be Curious!
- Be open to trying new foods! If you never try something new, you’ll never find new foods you might really love.
- Be open to learning about new cultures! Edible insects provide a fun way to experience and appreciate other cultures. Be respectful of different ideas and traditions; remember, some people think hot-dogs and chicken nuggets are weird.
- Help us learn more about this new (old) ingredient! Because the idea of using insects as food is new to many western food cultures, we need your help to figure out the best ways to cook ’em! Share your ideas and experiences with us and with others online.