Do you want to see the Which? crew eating worms, crickets, ants and scorpions? Well, you can. Would you eat bugs yourself? Well, that’s the debate we’re starting today. In the future, you might not have a choice.
We’ve previously talked about scientists warning of an impending food crisis. As our population rises, we may not be able to keep up with our appetite for meat and we’ll need to look at alternative sources of protein.
We could eat lab-grown meat, or turn vegetarian, but is there another way? Yes. Bugs.
Patrick Steen’s in favour of eating insects
I’m all aboard this insect eating train. If 80% of the world’s nations are happy to munch on bugs, and even consider them a delicacy, why can’t we?
Yes, there are some British delicacies I wouldn’t even eat – tripe being one of them. But, in my mind, it’s purely psychological. You might find the idea ‘yukky’, ‘icky’ or ‘gross’– but what if you had to eat insects to survive?
Creepy crawlies are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fats. Edible insects are easy to sustainably farm and produce considerably more ‘meat’ for the amount of food we put in compared to traditional meat farming.
We eat similar creatures already – prawns, lobsters and crabs are basically insects of the sea – with exoskeletons that we remove before eating them. In fact, I crunch on the tails of deep-fried prawns, so why should I fear eating a cricket with its ‘shell’ on?
As you can see in the video above, I wanted to test my convictions on film. So, I went out and bought some insects – dried meal worms, mopani worms (emperor moth caterpillars), crickets, and chocolate-covered giant ants and a scorpion.
I’m happy to say that I ate them all, and my reluctant fellow diners did a good job too, but we didn’t particularly enjoy them. They just didn’t taste that nice, nor did they feel very substantial.
I’m going to put that down to the way they were delivered – dried and shrivelled – but I’m confident they could taste good if cooked fresh. Or why not grind them up and hide them in other foods? Most red food colouring is made up from ground up insects (the cochineal), so why not a burger with its main protein coming from worms? Come on, be brave – it’s the future.
Nikki Whiteman’s against dining on bugs
Well, you can count me out of eating insects. Future society might also expect us to have a robot butler or ride hoverboards to work, but there are some things I’m not sure I can bring myself to do – eating insects is one of them.
Watching Patrick and my other colleagues munching their way through a plateful of worms, ants and other crawlies was enough to put me off my dull yet delicious sandwich.
I understand that we’re not talking about the apocalypse – we won’t be digging live worms out of the ground to munch on. The proposed alternative to traditional ‘meats’ is something like a reformed protein – made up of the (admittedly quite nutritious) pulp of insects and formed into something with fewer visible legs. But I’m still not sure that, knowing it was an insect, I could actually put it in my mouth.
I appreciate that we need to preserve the world’s resources, but as an arachnophobe and the sort of person who runs screaming down the street at the sight of a cockroach, I think that I’d be happier taking a different route. If ‘real’ meat runs out I’d happily eat a lab-grown burger or just cut meat out of my diet altogether. But worms and crickets? Think I’ll pass, thanks.
If push came to shove, would you eat insects?
Yes – we need to find new sources of food (38%, 105 Votes)
No – are you out of your mind? (37%, 103 Votes)
Not sure – only if I can’t see it’s an insect (25%, 69 Votes)
Total Voters: 277