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  • For centuries, people have consumed bugs, everything from beetles to caterpillars, locusts, grasshoppers, termites, and dragonflies.

  • The practice even has a name: entomophagy.

  • Early hunter-gatherers probably learned from animals that foraged for protein-rich insects and followed suit.

  • As we evolved and bugs became part of our dietary tradition, they fulfilled the role of both staple food and delicacy.

  • In ancient Greece, cicadas were considered luxury snacks.

  • And even the Romans found beetle larvae to be scrumptious.

  • Why have we lost our taste for bugs?

  • The reason for our rejection is historical, and the story probably begins around 10,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent, a place in the Middle East that was a major birthplace of agriculture.

  • Back then, our once-nomadic ancestors began to settle in the Crescent.

  • And as they learned to farm crops and domesticate animals there, attitudes changed, rippling outwards towards Europe and the rest of the western world.

  • As farming took off, people might have spurned bugs as mere pests that destroyed their crops.

  • Populations grew, and the West became urbanized, weakening connections with our foraging past.

  • People simply forgot their bug-rich history.

  • Today, for people not accustomed to entomophagy, bugs are just an irritant.

  • They sting and bite and infest our food.

  • We feel an "ick" factor associated with them and are disgusted by the prospect of cooking insects.

  • Almost 2,000 insect species are turned into food, forming a big part of everyday diets for two billion people around the world.

  • Countries in the tropics are the keenest consumers because culturally it's acceptable.

  • Species in those regions are also large, diverse, and tend to congregate in groups or swarms that make them easy to harvest.

  • Take Cambodia in southeast Asia where huge tarantulas are gathered, fried, and sold in the marketplace.

  • In southern Africa, the juicy mopane worm is a dietary staple, simmered in a spicy sauce or eaten dried and salted.

  • And in Mexico, chapulines are toasted with garlic, lemon, and salt.

  • Bugs can be eaten whole to make up a meal or ground into flour, powder, and paste to add to food.

  • But it's not all about taste.

  • They're also healthy.

  • In fact, scientists say entomophagy could be a cost-effective solution for developing countries that are food insecure.

  • Insects can contain up to 80% protein, the body's vital building blocks, and are also high in energy-rich fat, fiber, and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

  • Did you know that most edible insects contain the same amount or even more mineral iron than beef?

  • Making them a huge, untapped resource when you consider that iron deficiency is currently the most common nutritional problem in the world.

  • The mealworm is another nutritious example.

  • The yellow beetle larvae are native to America and easy to farm.

  • They have a high vitamin content, loads of healthy minerals, and can contain up to 50% protein, almost as much as in an equivalent amount of beef.

  • To cook, simply saute in butter and salt or roast and drizzle with chocolate for a crunchy snack.

  • What you have to overcome in "ick" factor, you gain in nutrition and taste.

  • Indeed, bugs can be delicious.

  • Mealworms taste like roasted nuts.

  • Locusts are similar to shrimp.

  • Crickets, some people say, have an aroma of popcorn.

  • Farming insects for food also has less environmental impact than livestock farms do because insects emit far less greenhouse gas and use up less space, water, and food.

  • Socioeconomically, bug production could uplift people in developing countries since insect farms can be small scale, highly productive, and yet relatively inexpensive to keep.

  • Insects can also be turned into more sustainable food for livestock and can be reared on organic waste, like vegetable peelings, that might otherwise just end up rotting in landfills.

  • Feeling hungry yet?

  • Faced with a plate of fried crickets, most people today would still recoil, imagining all those legs and feelers getting stuck between their teeth.

  • But think of a lobster.

  • It's pretty much just a giant insect with legs and feelers galore that was once regarded as an inferior, repulsive food.

  • Now, lobster is a delicacy.

  • Can the same paradigm shift happen for bugs?

  • So, give it a try!

  • Pop that insect into your mouth, and savor the crunch.

For centuries, people have consumed bugs, everything from beetles to caterpillars, locusts, grasshoppers, termites, and dragonflies.

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B2 US TED-Ed insect taste protein crescent beetle

【TED-Ed】Connect to YouTube No thanks Should we eat bugs? - Emma Bryce

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    Go Tutor posted on 2021/12/17
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