• A new UN report says we should consider eating more insects, such as grasshoppers. (Photo: Gilles Gonthier)

A visit to Chinatown is never complete without a lengthy search for roasted scorpions or fried ants. A delicacy to some cultures, Canadians largely consider eating bugs to be a weird novelty at best, a repulsive punishment at worst, and usually, an accident that happens while cycling.

The United Nations would like to see that changed. The new report Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security makes the case for widespread (intentional) consumption of the crawling, the flying and the wriggling.

The report outlines the multifaceted benefits of entomophagy, or ingesting insects as food. From a health perspective, bugs are as rich in protein and other nutrients as our usual meat staples; plus, they are already eaten as part of a normal diet in countries around the world.

From an environmental perspective, insect production requires significantly less land and water than cattle rearing. Insects also need far less feed, because they convert feed into meat at a higher rate. Insects also emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than common livestock, and they can even be reared on human and animal waste.

From an economic perspective, raising insects for food is open to almost anyone because of the low costs involved; it can be done almost anywhere, including in urban areas; and the operations are easily scalable depending on the level of investment the farmer is willing to put in.

If the UN has you convinced, keep reading for some insect recipes courtesy of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University. For more recipes, see their website. These are all insects that can be found in Canada, but the authors advise buying them from pet stores or biological supply companies; many of these insects are pests targeted by pesticides, which can be dangerous to eat.

Recipes

Army Worm Banana Bread

Photo: Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about one hour.

Corn Rootworm Beetle Dip

Photo: Fritz Geller-Grimm

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Beau Monde
  • 1 cup dry-roasted rootworm beetles

Directions:

Blend first three ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and chill.

Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies

Photo: William Cho

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12-ounce chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.

Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers

Photo: Gilles Gonthier

Ingredients:

  • Baker's chocolate
  • Candied crickets

Directions:

Melt baker's chocolate in double boiler.

Fill molds halfway with chocolate, add grasshoppers, fill rest of the way.

A tasty surprise in every one!

Mealworm Fried Rice

Photo: Beatrice Murch

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. chopped onions
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. minute rice
  • 1 c. cooked mealworms

Directions:

Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces.

Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil.

Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes.