A message to every teenager: Do bugs, not drugs

This story was originally featured in the September Issue of the Arapahoe Herald

   Paige Paulsen

Rarely have the words, “You have a wing stuck in your teeth,” been uttered upon finishing a meal, but that may change as more and more people indulge in the practice of dining on insects, a health trend known as entomophagy.

As populations swell worldwide and demands for food escalate, people are searching for more options in reliable food sources. Both nutritious and sustainable, insects are a growing prospect for many menus as people come to realize the benefits these creatures can provide.

In recent years, entomophagy has been considered as a solution for combating world hunger, as well as an alternative to the meat packing and food processing industries that so many people frown upon, yet do little about.

While the insect-based diet is still finding solid ground in the U.S., it is nothing new around the globe. Other countries and what is estimated as half of the human population have been using bugs as the main ingredient in recipes for centuries. This is evidence of a promising future for entomophagy as the world gradually embraces the possibility that roasted crickets may become the biggest thing in the snack food aisle since potato chips.

Soon the time will come for people to take up this trend out of necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. Understandably, it will ask a lot of the typical American who, since childhood, has been conditioned to be disgusted by the sight of insects, let alone the idea of eating them as an accessory to salad.

For those who are less than willing to eat a bug, a majority of suppliers have tweaked the preparation process to suit the tastes of a population raised on processed foods. Some grind the insects into flour that can be mixed into baked goods while others slather them from antennae to abdomen in chocolate or other flavored powders.

Whatever the recipe, the practice boils down to the same end goal. In the name of feeding future masses of humanity, people must learn to stomach the idea of eating some of their worst fears even as the meal tries to scramble off of the plate.

If you decide to test the waters of entomophagy, it is best to start slow. Companies such as Hotlix offer a variety of amateur products meant to ease the consumer into the unfamiliar textures and flavors that come with trying a new food.

One of the most common and widely available options is the Hotlix insect lollipop which, to be honest, is about as good as it sounds. The candy could be used to pull teeth. It is so sticky it could put fly paper to shame. Any claim to a specific flavor is lost to the sweetness of the heavy sugar content.

Once you manage to reach the bug, the texture might scare you away if the sickening syrup of the candy doesn’t first. The insects feel and taste like stale wafers or flaky cereal while their shells stick to the sides of the throat in a way similar to popcorn kernels. The fact that it is a bug is not easy to ignore; this is made even more clear by the texture of spindly legs.

Regardless, the experience is worth the initial disgust. Whether for the story, the dare or the ecological awareness eating a bug is definitely something to check off every bucket list.