Branding Bugs-As-Food Poses Challenges
Common sense and science agree that bug-eating (“entomophagy”) is a better use of limited land and water resources, but getting westerners to chow down on this unfamiliar food is no easy task. Despite the fact that 80% of humans eat bugs regularly, those who never have tend to balk at six and eight-legged entrees.
North America and Europe are the two continents where bugs haven’t caught on. In the tropics, where food resources are limited, munching on mealworms or gnawing on grasshoppers is no big deal. Although younger generations in countries like Thailand and Kenya find western hamburgers and fries more appealing, there is no doubt that bugs are still considered tasty and nutritious worldwide.
Insect eating in South America, Asia and Africa isn’t just a novelty – it’s part of the daily diet for many. But can entomophagy catch on in the western hemisphere?
Already, many foods contain insect parts. The US Department of Agriculture allows a certain proportion of insects into foods – the reasoning being that a few insects are better than the buckets of pesticide necessary to remove them all.
One wedge to open up the door to insect-eating is the agreement that meat-eating is just too wasteful and expensive. Vegetarians and vegans are the logical choice as a target audience for insect-based menus. Some products marketed to vegetarians are already on the market: Amazon sells “chirps chips” a bean and corn-based chip made with crickets.