10 Countries Where People Eat Insects for Food (#10 Will Surprise You)
Many Americans might reel at the thought of downing a crunchy, stir-fried grasshopper, or chugging a glass of freshly-squeezed cricket juice. But in many parts of the world, eating insects is a completely normal part of people’s diets… and not just something they’re forced to eat as a challenge on reality TV!
In fact, there’s even a term for the human practice of consuming insects. It’s called entomophagy. Despite the novelty factor in the West, more and more people are beginning to recognize that insects have a lot to offer when it comes to providing well-rounded nourishment.
It turns out that insects are packed with protein and other vital nutrients. The other big benefit is that they are impressively sustainable as a food source when it comes to their very minimal impact on the environment.
Millions (if not billions) of people around the world have already discovered that insects are a natural, life-giving food source. Which of these local delicacies from 10 different countries would you be willing to try?
#1 – Mexico: Bugs as a Sweet Treat
It’s common for our neighbors to the south to incorporate insects into their culinary craft. Worms and other bugs are often consumed fried, buttered, or even dipped into chocolate as a sweet treat. The popular Mexican liquor known as mezcal, tequila’s smoky-flavored cousin, is infused with a type of insect larvae that lives on the agave plant from which it’s made.
In many brands of mezcal, you can find a single whole larva floating in the bottle. This is called “con gusano,” which means “with the worm” in Spanish .
#2 – Australia: Ants Are an Aboriginal Staple
You probably won’t find them being served at any of Sydney’s posh eateries, but insects like the honey pot ant have a rich history of being dined on by Australia’s aboriginal population. This ant is particularly unique in that it stores the food it eats inside its body, as opposed to fully digesting it.
This means we can obtain this full store of nutrition for health and longevity in addition to the nutrition naturally found in the insect itself !
#3 – Thailand: Insects Straight From the Wok
Fans of Thai food might not be so keen on this version of it – at least on first thought. But all throughout Thailand, it’s common to find stir-fried grasshoppers, woodworms, and crickets on the menu. Just throw a few bugs into the wok with some oil, salt, and seasoning, and you’re all set!
Vendors at local food markets serve up bug-centric snacks to hungry passers-by, along with rice-looking ant eggs, which are also a popular food item .
#4 – Ghana: Turning the Tables on Termites
Termites are generally recognized as a nuisance for their destructive, wood-munching habits. But they’re actually a major food source, especially during the meager season of spring, in the Republic of Ghana, located in West Africa. When preferable foods are scarce, Ghanaians rely on termites as their primary source of protein.
They’re known to roast, fry, and even bake these tiny, nutrition-packed critters into cakes .
#5 – Denmark: From Beer to Cricket Juice
Famous for its brews, Denmark is rapidly becoming the epicenter of another beverage: cricket juice. In Copenhagen, a large, 162-square-foot cellar is home to Denmark’s first insect farm, where stacks upon stacks of food-safe burrowing crates house crickets that are used in the production of insect nectar.
A company known as INSEKTKBH feeds these critters a mixture of organic vegetables, used coffee grounds, leftover beer mash, and other biodegradable compost matter, only to later press them into a product known as Femten Fårekyllinger, which in Danish means “15 Crickets” .
Each bottle contains a unique blend of organic Danish apple juice, ginger root, and, as its name plainly states, the blended “extract” of 15 healthy, blanched crickets.
#6 – China: Bugs for Everyone
When traveling about Asia’s most populous country, you’re sure to discover all sorts of edible insects available as food. On the street, full-grown insects on skewers are sold like lollipops, while high-end restaurants serve delicacies like roasted bee larvae, commonly served up to the wealthy as a five-star appetizer .
#7 – Brazil: Royal Ants for Regular People
In Southwestern Brazil, eating insects is the opposite of a delicacy. While everyday folks now consume queen ants, known as içás, regularly, it used to be that only the poorest of the poor partook in this peculiar culinary ritual. But perhaps içás should be a delicacy, since these winged insects are reported to taste just like the mint plant, and mix very well with chocolate .
#8 – Japan: A Sophisticated Culinary Business
Contrary to what some people might assume about the practice, insect consumption is neither primitive nor unsophisticated. And if you need even more proof of this, look to First World leader Japan, where insects are replete throughout the menu.
Some of Japan’s more popular insect-based offerings include inago, which contains fried grasshopper; sangi, a dish containing fried silk moth pupae; and Zaza-mushi, a culinary masterpiece containing larvae .
#9 – The Netherlands: The New Coffee Shop Novelty
With its quaint, Dutch Golden Age housing and countless miles of picturesque winding canals, the coastal Scandinavian country of the Netherlands is known for its fish. But bugs are slowly entering Holland’s national palate, with crickets now being served up for free by street vendors who are trying to encourage more Dutch folk to give the insect a chance .
#10 – The United States: Bugs Are Becoming More Mainstream
Though we’re still in the early stages of adoption, the United States has even begun the journey towards insect-inspired fare. California-based Hotlix, for instance, currently offers insect-infused suckers, chocolates, and other candies sold at novelty shops all across the country.
One of its more popular products, known as CRICK-ETTES Snax, is precisely what its name suggests: packaged, dried crickets that come in delectable flavors like Bacon & Cheddar, Sour Cream & Onion, and Salt & Vinegar .
If none of the options above seem appealing to you, Organixx has created a FOOL-PROOF way to deliver ALL the nutrient-rich benefits of crickets – without any risk of the “icky bits” ruining the experience. Cricket Super Fuel is an organic powder formula you can easily blend into a rich, creamy smoothie, sprinkle on a salad, or even bake into your favorite cookies!
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Insects are a sustainable food source, packed with protein and other nutrients.
While insects are still largely considered a bizarre meal in the U.S., many countries have introduced them into the market.
From snacks to delicacies, insects are popular in many countries as a viable (and desired) food source.