Since the 50s, Americans have been obsessed with the idea of “big, bad bugs.” Hollywood was chock-full of films like The Deadly Mantis (1957), where an impossibly large, 200-foot long praying mantis awakes from a frozen slumber and requires military intervention to bring down. And still, almost seven decades later, we still have a stigma around bugs that keeps us from viewing them the way other cultures have since the beginning of history–a prime source of protein and nutrients.
In non-Western cultures, as stated in the Scientific American, insects are an important food source, providing proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But, here in the states, many still view eating crickets, and any other type of insect, as something more akin to a Fear Factor challenge than an actual daily meal routine.
Julie Lesnik, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan who has studied exercise science and nutrition in addition to anthropology and entomophagy, believes that the root cause for Americans being averse to eating bugs for protein and vitamins also stems from our climate and everyday traditions as home-owners.
“There is a bit of a cultural taboo,” says Lesnik during an interview on Ask an Entomologist. “Insects are pests. Insects are through to transmit diseases. I also think a lot of how we live is people try and remove themselves from their natural environment as much as possible. So an insect that comes into your house in an invader, and they’re breaking our boundaries between us and them.”
She continues, ” In the tropics, windows are just like windows and they don’t have screens, and you learn to live with the insects not against them…the northern latitudes have always been cold and always been snowy and so there’s not been a prevalence of insect-eating ever in Europe or North America because the first people to populate these areas moved there when they were glaciated. There was no way they were surviving off of eating insects. So eating insects is very much a tropical thing, it’s been a tropical thing over the course of human evolution, and it’s still a tropical thing today.”
Of course, areas like Southern California and Florida have tropical climates, but window screens are still very much a must in every household.
Our mission at Harmony Cricket Farm is to help change Americans’ perception of eating insects by producing sustainable, nutritional, and very tasty superfoods. We as Americans may shy away from munching on an unprepared cricket, but if it’s an ingredient that takes the nutrition of food to a whole new level, and it’s super awesome for the earth, then why would we stay no to that? Crickets are, in fact, “land shrimp” and we certainly have no issues with shrimp (at least, not those of us who like to indulge in seafood).
Cricket powder, mixed into a protein shake or smoothie or added to protein bar recipes, is becoming more popular with athletes and The Atlantic published an article titled, “To Save the World, Eat Bugs,” discussing how introducing bugs as a new meat source for Americans can help to save our planet as well as prevent inevitable future food shortages. You can read more about this topic in one of our own blog posts: “EAT CRICKETS, HELP THE PLANET.”
If you’re interested in taking a step toward change and a healthier diet, here are some of our own recipes that can be used with cricket powder.
GLUTEN FREE CRICKET NACHOS
1 bag of black bean or corn tortilla chips
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 jalapeno pepper
1 habanero pepper
1/2 red onion diced
.5oz Roasted Crickets
Sprinkle top with fresh cilantro after removing from the oven.
CHIRPIN’ GOOD GUAC
4 ripe avocados
1/2 red onion diced
1/4 cup lightly ground roasted crickets
1 habanero pepper
1 tsp. salt (maybe more depending on taste)
1 fresh lime
1 punch of cilantro diced
Health benefits and facts found through The Atlantic, Ask an Entomologist, Scientific American, United States Census Bureau, OurWorldData.org, NBC News, and Forbes, Sports Outside Online, Natural Products Insider, Next Food, Triathlon Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.