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One Thing I Remember For Certain Is That I Ate More Bugs


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Xena Ogrady



One thing I remember for certain is that I ate more bugs than the average kid. While some may find this strange or off-putting, my childhood memories of food travel are filled with the unique flavors and experiences that come from embracing different cultures and culinary traditions. Growing up, my family believed that trying new foods was not just a way to expand our palates, but also a way to connect with the world around us.


Food travel has always been a passion of mine. Exploring new destinations and immersing myself in the local cuisine allows me to experience the true essence of a place. From street food stalls in bustling Asian markets to Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, each bite tells a story and forms a lasting memory.


Throughout my journeys, I have encountered a myriad of food customs and rituals. One culinary adventure that particularly stands out is the discovery of bugs as food. While entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, may seem unconventional to many, it is deeply rooted in several cultures around the world. Whether it’s fried crickets in Thailand, roasted mealworms in Mexico, or ant larvae soup in Africa, bugs are incorporated into traditional dishes and are considered delicacies in their respective regions.


I was initially hesitant to try bugs as food, but curiosity got the better of me. To my surprise, I found that they provided a rich and unique dining experience. The flavors were unlike anything I had tasted before, and the textures added an intriguing element to each dish. From the crispy crunch of fried grasshoppers to the creamy consistency of silkworm pupae, every bite was an adventure for my taste buds.


Join me on this culinary journey as we dive into the world of bug consumption. We will explore the cultural perspectives, nutritional benefits, culinary uses, and environmental advantages associated with the practice. Together, we will break down the barriers and overcome the stigma around bug eating, opening our minds and palates to the vast array of flavors that await us.


Childhood Memories

As a child, my family instilled in me a love for food and travel. We would embark on yearly vacations to different countries, immersing ourselves in the local culture and cuisine. These trips were not just about sightseeing and relaxation; they were about exploring the flavors of each destination and embracing new culinary experiences.


One of my fondest childhood memories is our trip to Thailand. The vibrant street markets filled with enticing aromas and colorful displays of food captivated my senses. I remember eagerly trying various dishes, from spicy curries to fragrant soups. But what caught my attention the most were the fried insects on display. Grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles were skewered on sticks, ready to be devoured.


My parents, always encouraging us to be open-minded and adventurous when it came to food, convinced me to give it a try. With a mix of apprehension and excitement, I tentatively took a bite of a deep-fried cricket. The crunchiness and nutty flavor surprised me, and it quickly became a shared family experience as we all indulged in this unusual delicacy.


From that moment on, bug eating became a part of our food travel adventures. We sought out opportunities to try insects in different countries, and I quickly learned that bugs were not just a novelty but a vital source of nutrition and sustenance for many cultures.


These childhood memories have shaped my perspective on food and travel. They have taught me that embracing new culinary experiences, no matter how unconventional, can lead to unforgettable moments and a deeper appreciation for different cultures.


Discovering Bugs as Food

On my food travel journeys, I have come to realize that bugs are not simply pests to be avoided, but rather a valuable source of sustenance and culinary delight. The practice of eating insects, known as entomophagy, has been part of human history for thousands of years and is prevalent in many cultures around the world.


My initial fascination with bug eating began as a simple curiosity. I was intrigued by the idea that something so small and seemingly insignificant could play a significant role in the culinary traditions of various cultures. As I delved deeper into this world, I discovered that bugs have been a staple food source for many communities throughout history.


Several factors have contributed to the prevalence of bug consumption. Insects are abundant, easily accessible, and require minimal resources to cultivate. They are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, certain insects are known to contain higher protein content than traditional meat sources, making them a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative.


As I explored different regions, I encountered a wide variety of edible insects. In Thailand, for example, fried grasshoppers and bamboo worms were commonly found in street food stalls. In Mexico, chapulines, or roasted grasshoppers, were a popular topping for tacos. In Africa, termites and caterpillars were incorporated into traditional dishes. Each culture had its own unique way of preparing and enjoying these creatures, showcasing the versatility of bugs in the culinary world.


One of the most surprising discoveries for me was that insects can be used not only as a standalone protein source but also as an ingredient in various dishes. Insect flour, made by grinding dried insects, can be used in baking to add an earthy flavor and nutrient boost to bread, cookies, and other baked goods. The possibilities for incorporating bugs into our daily meals are endless.


Through my exploration of bug eating, I have developed a deep appreciation for the cultural significance and nutritional value of insects. They offer a sustainable and eco-friendly solution to the growing challenges of food security and environmental sustainability. As we continue to make strides towards a more sustainable future, embracing bugs as food could play a crucial role in creating a more balanced and resilient food system.


Cultural Perspectives on Bug Consumption

One of the most fascinating aspects of bug consumption is the diverse cultural perspectives surrounding it. While some may view eating insects as strange or taboo, for many cultures, bugs are an integral part of their culinary traditions and cultural identity.


In many parts of Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, insects have been consumed for centuries. In Thailand, for example, fried crickets, silk larvae, and water beetles are commonly enjoyed as snacks or added to dishes for an extra crunch. In Cambodia, deep-fried tarantulas are considered a delicacy, enjoyed by locals and adventurous travelers alike. These cultural practices reflect the resourcefulness and ingenuity of traditional societies, as bugs provide a readily available and sustainable source of nutrition.


In Mexico, insects such as grasshoppers, ants, and worms have been consumed since pre-Hispanic times. They hold a significant cultural importance and are often associated with ancient rituals and celebrations. Insects are a staple ingredient in traditional Mexican cuisine, adding unique flavors and textures to dishes. For example, chapulines, or roasted grasshoppers, are commonly enjoyed as a crunchy topping on tacos or sprinkled over guacamole.


Cultural perspectives on bug consumption extend beyond Asia and Latin America. In Africa, termites and caterpillars are widely consumed, providing essential nutrients for local communities. In some African cultures, eating certain insects is considered a rite of passage, symbolizing strength and resilience.


While bugs are traditionally embraced in many cultures, it is important to note that not all countries have the same level of acceptance. In Western societies, there is often a stigma surrounding insect consumption, with many perceiving it as unappetizing or strange. However, attitudes are slowly changing as people become more aware of the environmental and nutritional benefits of bug eating.


By understanding and appreciating different cultural perspectives on bug consumption, we can foster a sense of respect for diverse food traditions. Embracing the culinary practices of other cultures allows us to expand our own culinary horizons and appreciate the intricate tapestry of global cuisine.


Nutritional Benefits of Eating Bugs

While the idea of eating bugs may initially seem unappealing, they offer a surprising array of nutritional benefits. Insects are packed with essential nutrients and can provide a sustainable and eco-friendly source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.


Protein is a crucial component of a balanced diet, and insects are incredibly rich in this macronutrient. In fact, certain insects contain higher protein content than traditional meat sources. For example, crickets have been found to contain up to three times more protein than beef by weight. This makes insects an excellent alternative for individuals seeking to increase their protein intake while minimizing their environmental impact.


Besides protein, bugs also provide essential amino acids that are necessary for tissue repair and growth. They are also a good source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits such as reducing inflammation and supporting brain health.


Insects are also rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, mealworms contain high levels of Vitamin B12, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Crickets are a good source of iron, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are vital for proper bodily function.


The nutritional composition of insects varies depending on the species and their diet. However, overall, bugs offer a well-rounded nutritional profile that can support a healthy and balanced diet.


Incorporating insects into our meals can also help address sustainability concerns. Compared to traditional livestock, insects have a significantly smaller environmental footprint. They require less water, land, and feed to produce the same amount of protein. In addition, insect farming produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and generates less waste compared to conventional livestock farming.


As our global population continues to grow, finding sustainable and efficient sources of food is paramount. Bugs offer a viable solution to this challenge, providing a nutrient-dense and environmentally-friendly alternative.


While bugs may not be a conventional source of nutrition in Western cultures, their potential as a sustainable and nutritious food source cannot be overlooked. By embracing bug consumption, we can diversify our diets, reduce our ecological impact, and contribute to a more sustainable future.


Culinary Uses for Bugs

When it comes to incorporating bugs into culinary creations, the possibilities are endless. From adding a unique twist to traditional dishes to creating innovative recipes, bugs offer a range of culinary uses that can elevate any meal.


One popular culinary application of bugs is as a topping or ingredient in various dishes. Insects like fried crickets and grasshoppers can be used to add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to salads, stir-fries, and tacos. They can also be ground into a powder and used as a seasoning or a protein-rich flour in baking. Bug flour can be used to make bread, cookies, protein bars, and even pasta, providing a nutritious alternative to traditional ingredients.


Another way bugs are utilized in the culinary world is by incorporating them into sauces and condiments. For example, roasted ants can be ground and mixed with spices to create a zesty ant salsa, adding a tangy and unique twist to your favorite dishes. In some cultures, insects are also used as a base for broths and soups, providing a rich and savory flavor.


Chefs around the world are also embracing the creative and artistic side of bug cuisine, using insects as a centerpiece in visually stunning dishes. From delicately placed fried crickets on top of gourmet plates to intricate designs made with edible ants, bugs are becoming an integral part of gastronomic experiences. This newfound appreciation for bugs in high-end dining establishments is opening up new avenues for culinary experimentation and innovation.


Furthermore, insects are not limited to savory dishes. They can also be used in sweet treats and desserts. Chocolate-covered crickets, honey-baked larvae, and cricket flour brownies are just a few examples of how bugs can be incorporated into the world of confectionery. The addition of insects adds an unexpected flavor profile and texture, giving traditional desserts a unique twist.


As the global culinary landscape evolves, chefs and home cooks alike are finding creative ways to incorporate bugs into their menus. By experimenting with different culinary techniques and flavor combinations, bugs can be transformed into delicious and visually appealing dishes, challenging the notion that they are simply an unconventional source of protein.


Ultimately, the culinary uses for bugs are limited only by our imagination. By embracing bugs as a culinary ingredient, we can unlock a world of flavors and textures that add a new dimension to our dining experiences.


Environmental Benefits of Bug Consumption

One of the greatest advantages of bug consumption is its positive impact on the environment. As the global population continues to grow, traditional livestock farming is becoming increasingly unsustainable due to its heavy reliance on resources and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Bugs, on the other hand, offer an environmentally-friendly alternative with several key benefits.


First and foremost, bugs are incredibly efficient when it comes to resource usage. Insect farming requires far less land, water, and feed compared to traditional livestock farming. For example, it takes approximately 2,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of beef, while crickets require only a fraction of that amount. This reduced water consumption is particularly crucial as water scarcity becomes an increasingly pressing issue globally.


Bugs also require significantly less land for farming. Insect farms can be vertically stacked or operated in smaller spaces, allowing for higher production yields per square meter. This is especially advantageous in urban areas where land availability is limited.


Furthermore, insects have a remarkable feed conversion efficiency. They can convert their feed into edible protein more efficiently than traditional livestock. For example, crickets can convert feed into usable protein at a rate of around 2:1, while beef cattle have a feed conversion rate of around 6:1. This means that insects require less feed to produce the same amount of protein, minimizing the strain on agricultural resources.


In addition to their resource efficiency, bugs also have a smaller carbon footprint compared to conventional livestock. Insect farming produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide, which contribute to climate change. This reduced environmental impact makes bug consumption an important tool in mitigating the effects of global warming.


The environmental benefits of bug consumption extend beyond their production. As mentioned earlier, bugs are highly nutritious, offering a protein-rich alternative to traditional meat sources. By incorporating insects into our diets, we can reduce our reliance on resource-intensive and environmentally harmful livestock farming.


Embracing bug consumption can also contribute to bio-waste reduction. Many insects are capable of converting organic waste, such as food scraps and agricultural byproducts, into valuable protein. This presents an opportunity to address waste management challenges while simultaneously creating a sustainable protein source.


By choosing bugs as a food source, we can make a significant positive impact on the environment. From reducing water usage and land consumption to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable food production, bug consumption offers a pathway towards a more environmentally-friendly and resilient food system.


Overcoming the Stigma Around Bug Eating

Despite the numerous benefits of bug consumption, there is still a prevailing stigma surrounding the idea of eating insects in many Western cultures. However, efforts are being made to challenge this perception and promote insects as a viable and sustainable food source.


Education and awareness play a crucial role in overcoming the stigma around bug eating. By providing information about the nutritional value, cultural significance, and environmental benefits of insects, we can dispel misconceptions and foster a more open-minded attitude towards bug consumption. Sharing success stories and positive experiences of individuals who have embraced eating bugs can also help to normalize and destigmatize the practice.


Celebrity chefs and food enthusiasts have played a significant role in this regard, by incorporating bugs into their menus and actively promoting them as a part of an adventurous culinary experience. Their influence can help change mainstream perceptions and encourage people to give bug-eating a try.


Embracing bugs as a part of our food culture also requires innovation in the food industry. Companies are now exploring ways to incorporate insect-based products into the market, such as protein bars, snacks, and even pasta made from ground crickets. By making insects more accessible and appealing to the masses, these products can help break down barriers and make bug consumption more commonplace.


Collaboration between scientists, policymakers, and the food industry is essential in developing sustainable insect farming practices and ensuring quality and safety standards are met. Establishing guidelines and regulations that facilitate the production and distribution of edible insects can help build consumer trust and further promote bug consumption as a viable food option.


Lastly, changing cultural perceptions takes time and exposure. By incorporating bug dishes into culinary events, food festivals, and even school curriculums, we can expose people to the idea of bug eating in a controlled and educational environment. This offers an opportunity for individuals to experience the flavors and benefits of bugs firsthand, challenging their preconceived notions.


While it may take time to fully overcome the stigma surrounding bug eating, the growing global interest in sustainable and alternative food sources provides optimism for a future where bugs are embraced as a valuable part of our diets. By breaking down barriers, promoting education, and normalizing bug consumption, we can create a more inclusive and sustainable food culture for generations to come.



Embarking on a food travel adventure that includes bug consumption may initially seem daunting, but it opens a world of flavors, cultural experiences, and sustainability that should not be missed. Bug eating offers a unique way to connect with different cultures, challenge our culinary boundaries, and contribute to a more sustainable future.


From my childhood memories of trying fried crickets in Thailand to exploring the diverse culinary uses of insects around the world, I have come to appreciate the nutritional benefits and environmental advantages that bugs provide. Insects are a rich source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, making them an excellent alternative to traditional meat sources. They also have a significantly smaller ecological footprint, requiring less land, water, and feed to produce the same amount of protein.


While bug consumption still faces a stigma in many Western cultures, efforts are being made to overcome this perception. By promoting education, sharing positive experiences, and normalizing bug eating through culinary innovation, we can challenge misconceptions and pave the way for a more open-minded approach to food.


As the world searches for sustainable solutions to combat food insecurity and environmental challenges, bugs present a viable option. By embracing entomophagy, we can diversify our diets, reduce our ecological impact, and contribute to a more balanced and resilient food system.


So, the next time you embark on a food travel adventure, keep an open mind and be willing to explore the culinary delights that bugs have to offer. From crispy fried crickets to protein-packed insect flour, let your taste buds be your guide as you discover the rich flavors, cultural significance, and environmental benefits of bug consumption. Together, let’s break down the barriers, challenge the stigma, and embrace the world of bug eating.