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Crunch A Bunch O’ Bugs For Lunch


Once upon a time, when I was very young, there was a department store to which my family would trek once in a while. In that store, there was a food department. And in that food department, there were shelves filled with exotic imported edibles. And on those shelves, there were insects. No, the place wasn’t infested; to the best of my knowledge, the place passed all of its health inspections. But it did carry grasshoppers in jars and chocolate-covered ants, and the idea of anyone eating grasshoppers — did you cook them or just munch ’em out of the jar? — or Crunch bars in which the crispy rice wasn’t rice, well, that caused many a nightmare.

That experience sat in the back of my mind until this week. I’m not sure what, exactly, is going on, but I encountered not one but two articles this week on eating bugs. According to experts, it’s good for the world.

Take this piece at about entomophagy — that’s what eating bugs is called by the more educated than I am — and how it can help combat climate change. This is not a joke, as best I can determine. They suggest that eating insects is good because “Bugs are high in protein, require less space to grow and offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to the vertebrates we Westerners prefer.”

How is it good to eat bugs? There’s the methane effect. The U.N. says that 37% of methane emissions (and 9% of carbon dioxide, and 65% of nitrous oxide) in human-related greenhouse gas emissions are from the livestock sector. Long story short, insects produce less of everything. And if you — I say you, because I’m not having any of this — stop eating beef and pork and switch to healthy, satisfying bugs, and they can reduce livestock production by 30%, they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you’d have lower risk of heart disease, and we’d save the world, or something.

Needless to say, this is not likely to happen soon.

More immediate is the problem of stink bug infestation, which is happening all over the eastern U.S. WUSA-TV in Washington reports that the National Wildlife Federation’s David Mizejewski is suggesting a simple way to help reduce the stink bug population: eat ’em.

Yes, stink bugs are edible, but it is not suggested that you eat them fresh, since they, um, stink. Roast them first. The article has recipes for stink bug pate and stink bug tacos, and I’m certain that they’re high in protein and perfectly edible, and I would not eat them in a million years. Call me a typical Westerner with an unrefined palate and narrow culinary world view, but bugs in general and stink bugs in particular… no. Not on a bet. I’m sure the food I eat on a daily basis has enough insect fragments for my Minimum Daily Requirement of bugs, and I know they use crushed insects in some food dyes, but I’d rather not KNOW I’m eating bugs. Tell you what: YOU try them and tell us how they taste.

Image: Flickr/Mike Keeling

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  1. Acrophile says:

    I’m vegetarian, but I understand this. Once upon a time, I was an omnivore, too. But…. The very idea of eating bugs creeps me out, too, so I feel for you. And yes I have long known that lobster, shrimp and crab are just “Ocean Bugs” (Think about it! Giant, B-Movie-Size Ocean Bugs!!) But I also understand very well the “Green Eggs and Ham” rule, and I think I could maybe possibly muster up the nerve to try some sort of insect as a food. But seriously, it would have to be dead, and preferably cooked in some way. Raw animals have NEVER been on my menu. The closest I ever came to willingly eating something uncooked was smoked salmon, and that was at least *cured*! Maybe i’ll try fried chocolate covered ants or fried grasshoppers soeday. The gal on TV news in Cincinnati who ate a *live* cicada was far beyond my level of bravery, or tolerance for eating anything while it’s moving around!!

  2. insects food says:

    i am liudong

    we are insect farmer from china , we can offer you many insects

    edible and dried or fried

    if you are intested in , pls contact me [email protected]

    and also you can order some sample

  3. Joe says:

    Get over yourself.

  4. Chris says:

    Termites are a staple food in Thailand, and apparently a major source of protein. You can eat them live, the key is to rip off the wings and bite their bodies away from their heads, so the head doesn’t bite you on the way down.

    We had a termite eating contest at 3 am during a monsoon. I made it into the mid-20s before barfing.

  5. Well, I haven’t tried stink bugs yet, but I have eaten dung beetle, and it was delicious! No, I’m not crazy, and yes, I am discerning: while the fried dung beetle was scrumptious, boiled walking stick was icky, as was sauteed Thai water bug. Waxworms and crickets are always tasty.
    Perry, I have a website,, which might help open your mind about edible insects. For instance, in the past, I’ve dry-roasted crickets, ground them into flour, and baked muffins with them. They tasted nutty, and provided tons of calcium and iron – more than beef!
    Don’t squash it till you’ve tried it… 🙂

  6. Glenn says:

    I think I’ll stick with eating Skippy as my beef alternative (mmmm, roo nachos)

  7. Daniel S says:

    I am an entomology major at Texas A&M and I am telling you arthropods (bugs for you uneducated) are the future of food. Actually its the future and the past, most other cultures have had insects as a main food source in their diet at some time and many still do. We already eat other arthropods, lobster, shrimp, and crabs are just ocean bugs. As more studies are done proving the benefits of making insects a staple protein, America and Europe will find itself pressured into changing its attitudes toward this very viable and economical food source.

  8. Jim says:

    I don’t understand all the fuss. I tried fried grasshoppers and fried ants. They are tasty enough, but the bits of legs getting stuck in your teeth takes a bit of getting used to. So far, I have tried every meat, fish, plant, and fungus that I have seen on a menu. While some are not something I will ask for again, I have yet to be sickened by trying something new and at times I feel I have found true culinary marvels.