In the last couple of years, we've detected a faint buzz about crispy crickets and crunchy mealworms. Companies pedaling scorpion lollipops and peanut butter-and-jelly protein bars made with cricket flour have thrust their wares into our hands and mailboxes.
It's truly gotten easier to snack on bugs, should you want to do so. And everyone from the earnest eco-entrepreneurs in towns like Austin and Boulder, to international luminaries like Kofi Annan to the Food and Agriculture Organization are raving about how sustainable bugs are compared to meat.
But that doesn't mean the Western world, which doesn't have much of a history of entomophagy, is biting. Much.
Ophelia Deroy, a British researcher, tells The Salt most Westerners she has surveyed in randomized studies say they've hardly ever eaten insects in their life. And in a short column published Wednesday in Nature, she explains her hunch as to why the call to eat insects for nutritional and environmental reasons isn't being widely heeded yet.
Policymakers and the media have assumed that Westerners are disgusted by bugs because we associate them with contamination and disease. So the focus has been on trying to convert the uninitiated by making an environmental case for insect cuisine, and by noting that 2 billion people in around 100 countries (like Thailand) already enjoy many different insects in a range of dishes, Deroy writes.
Instead, Deroy argues, "We should think less about combating disgust and more about appealing to taste."