Bug appétit


By Sarah Sekula, published in USA TODAY’s Department of Agriculture magazine

Chile-lime crickets covered with pumpkin seeds. Granola bites made with cricket flour. Coconut-brittle bugitos. These snackabe treats made with insects were all dreamed up by Monica Martinez, owner of San Francisco-based Don Bugito. It’s all second nature. In Mexico City, where she spent her childhood, people have embraced entomophagy — the consumption of insects — since the Aztec Empire. Think: tacos filled with chapulines (grasshoppers) and salsa de chicatanas, a spicy delicacy made from flying ants.

“Mexico has over 500 varieties of edible insects, and we are one of the world leaders in entomophagy,” she explains. “I wanted to celebrate this rich tradition and bring diversity to the American food system.”

She’s always been fascinated with finding new ways to produce food beyond factory farming. These days she does just that by breeding insects using modular systems. She hopes that one day, in the not-so-distant future, eating insects could become commonplace in the U.S. rather than simply being a staple on reality TV shows.

She’s not the only one. As the executive director of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture, it’s something Aaron Hobbs also ponders often. He predicts insect consumption in North America will follow a path similar to sushi; unfamiliar at first, but, perhaps, widely welcomed down the road.

Insect flavors are more diverse than you might think—from nutty to zesty to almost chocolatey. According to Cortini Borgerson, associate professor of anthropology at Montclair State University, the best-tasting bug around is sakondry, found in Madagascar. “It tastes almost exactly like bacon, but a little toasty and endlessly snackable,” she says. “Imagine if I told you that you could garden free bacon in your yard?”

Read the rest of the article here.