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Bugs: They’re What’s For Dinner

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“So did you actually eat them?” Yes, Mom. I ate the crickets.

Let’s backtrack a bit. When I decided to do a story on diversifying protein choices in America, I really just wanted to expand on the age old question: “Chicken or Fish?” What I quickly found was that for the majority of the world’s countries, that question is more like: “Grasshopper or Maggot?”

So where does that leave us Americans? Scientists warn that as the global population continues to increase, traditional meat production will simply not be able to keep up with demand. Add in concerns over greenhouse gasses created by livestock farming — and we have a serious call to action on our hands.

But now back to the Mom reaction (which by the way was pretty much everyone’s reaction as well). There’s just something about bugs that creeps us out – like that kinda creep ya out feeling where you’re left with some serious jitters straight to the core.

But after hours of reading article after article about how edible insects will save our future, I decided it was time to face my pest panic full on.

I called in the support of Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods and Bizarre Foods America, and a man who knows a thing or two about adventuresome eating (think squirrel brains and cow urine). And together…we ate the crickets.

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My honest reaction: Tasty. No joke.

The crickets had been marinated in lime, dry roasted and tossed in salt.

Many people say roasted crickets taste like a cross between shrimp and almonds. My best description? They were like the crispiest, most flavorful fried bits of tasty I’ve ever had.

Still can’t wrap your mind around it? Here are some bits of wisdom from Andrew to help you on your insect eating way.

Eat good insects.  Just as chicken can be cooked dry or soup seasoned too salty – insects can either be prepared poorly or perfectly. There are plenty of ways to make insects – you just have to figure out how you like your locusts cooked! FYI – Andrew assured me our crickets were some good crickets.

Different insects taste different.  Plenty of people don’t like the taste of goat but love them some chicken. So just because you don’t like caterpillars doesn’t mean you won’t love bee larvae! Sometimes you simply gotta taste around.

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You’re already eating foods that are way weirder.  Seriously… have you ever looked at a shrimp? Like really looked at it? Go ahead. How crazy does that thing look?!?! Plenty creepier than a cricket – yet people cringe at crickets and devour plates of cocktail shrimp. It’s all about perception and that physiological barrier of what our culture defines as “normal.”

Convinced? Here are some recipes to get ya on your insect eating way.

Let’s wrap it up with one final statement to blow your mind. If eating bugs is the norm in most countries…aren’t we actually the weird ones for not eating them? Wait, what’s that you say? I totally just reshaped your world view and you’re ready to start cooking up your own bugs? I thought so.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video with Andrew below for more of his thoughts on adventurous eating.

Maggie Rulli asks Andrew Zimmern as many questions as possible in two minutes. 

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