IT MIGHT not be to everyone’s taste but queues of hungry students and workers enjoyed their grub as they tucked in to crispy mealworms and crunchy crickets in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
They were given a chance to sample unlikely foods that have been hailed as the answer to feeding the world’s growing population.
The deep-fried delicacies were handed out as part of an eclectic three-course menu at a pop-up “pestaurant” in the city’s historic Grassmarket area, where exotic starters included plain roasted locusts, BBQ mealworms and salt and vinegar crickets.
There were freshly grilled pigeon burgers for the main course and a choice of scorpion lollipops, ant candy and chocolate-dipped bugs for afters.
“Delicious” was the verdict of former vegetarian Morag
Edward as she munched on a couple of crickets. “As an ex-
veggie, it’s easier to face than dead animal. It’s like a midway point. I wish I didn’t have the mental block. We should have grown up with this: it’s free food from the garden.”
Carolyn McArthur, a volunteer worker, could not get enough of the grubs. “I can’t stop eating these mealworms,” she said. “They taste like Bombay mix –lovely.”
Fire service worker Kenny McLeod tried the locusts. “It’s a bit like a nut more than anything, quite similar. I wasn’t expecting that.”
Art student Michelle Maxwell opted for dessert, sampling assorted chocolate-coated bugs. She said: “It’s nice, like a crispy chocolate. And you can’t taste the worm and don’t see it.”
Unusual though it may seem to us, humans have been
eating insects for thousands of years, a practice known as
entomophagy, and the Greek philosopher Aristotle is known to have been partial to a cicada or two.
Studies show that more than two billion people around the world already supplement their diet with insects, and now a
new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states: “The case needs to be made to consumers that eating insects is not only good for their health, it is good for the planet.”
Rich in protein, zinc, calcium and iron and low in fat, insects have high nutritional value, while farming them has proved to be more environmentally friendly than raising some livestock.
People in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Africa, Mexico, Columbia and New Guinea eat insects for nutritional value as well as for taste.
Common house crickets contain four times as much protein as the same weight of chicken but have fewer calories, while it requires only a 12th of the amount of food to produce the same amount of protein from crickets as it does cattle.
As well as raising awareness of the edibility of insects, the Edinburgh eaterie was set up by pest control firm Rentokil as part of a campaign to celebrate 85 years in the bug-busting business.
A team of experts was on hand to serve up the insects and dish out advice about some of the common creatures making a nuisance of themselves in
And for all those who think they would never dine on insects, you probably already do. The pink food colouring E120, or carmine, which is often used in sausages and confectionery, is made from cochineal beetles.
Wheat flour used to make bread is home to assorted insect parts, while honey is in fact multi-regurgitated bee vomit – a hive has been described as a