As this morning’s gossip columns and this fine site are abuzz about, Shailene Woodley talked about eating bugs and called them “the future of food.” Most people were, of course, disgusted. But Woodley might actually be on to something.
Wait. You can actually eat bugs? This isn’t just some sort of weird hippie eating disorder?
Actually, on a cultural level, the developed world is weird for not eating more bugs. Most of the world eats bugs on a regular basis and it’s been suggested by people with actual degrees in this stuff as a solution to the world’s food crisis. We’ve been doing it since literally the dawn of humanity: Fossilized caveman turds called coprolites have been found to have bugs in them.
First of all, it’s a lot easier to catch a bug and eat it than it is to raise livestock, especially in tropical climates where they grow to the size of Buicks. Secondly, insects are actually pretty good at converting plant matter into protein; 3.5 ounces of crickets have the same amount of protein and calories as a couple of eggs. Thirdly, there are actually quite a lot of bugs it’s safe for humans to eat.
You also need far less land and have less of an impact on the climate when you farm bugs as opposed to, say, cows. That’s becoming more and more important as climates change and protein becomes more expensive.
It’s still kind of disgusting.
That it is, but realistically, you eat bugs, or at least bug parts, all the time without knowing it. Just look at the Food and Drug Administration’s sanitation requirements: You’ll notice the number of bug chunks that can turn up in your food is not “zero.” You probably eat less than that, but trust us: They’re in your food already.
Is Woodley right? Are we really going to be eating bugs in the near future?
Right now, no. Most people find it gross, and the current agriculture industry probably isn’t going to start selling crickets any time soon. But it’s generally agreed that sooner or later, bugs will be on menus across America. Might as well get used to them now. Perhaps try a Cricket Lickit?