Should You Be Eating…Insects?!

April 22, 2015

Warning to anyone squeamish: Bugs could become the next trendy health craze.

In 2013, the U.N. recommended edible insects as an eco-friendly way to provide enough protein to an ever-growing population. Now, nutrition experts have gotten on board for the critters’ many health benefits: Because they’re eaten whole with their exoskeleton and internal organs, insects contain all nine essential amino acids, plus omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, insoluble fiber and B vitamins.

Before you cringe, know that there may already be several bugs in the processed meals and snacks we eat. Many companies have long used insects for purposes like dyeing foods and coating candy. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows packaged food to contain certain amounts of “accidental insect fragments”—up to 90 fragments per 100 grams of chocolate, for example—because these bits and pieces are essentially harmless.

Today, aside from the occasional grasshopper taco, entrepreneurs are mostly grinding up farm-raised insects (typically crickets, which have a nutty, toasted flavor) into a flour that can be used in baked goods and protein bars.

Want to try a taste? Check out products like Exo’s cricket-flour protein bars or the cookies from Bitty Foods.