Bugs are tiny, creepy, crawly, crunchy, slimy, delicious and nutritious.
On September 26, Yasmin Akhtar, a UBC professor and researcher from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, held an insect-tasting event where she prepared different Canadian, Mediterranean and Asian dishes.
According to Akhtar, the main goals of her research are to increase awareness of the benefits of eating insects and to show people how to mildly incorporate them into their lives.
“Food makes things very interesting,” said Akhtar. “People love to eat.” This is why she chose to centre her entomological research on eating.
“Bugs are a great substitute for meat,” said Akhtar. There are thousands of edible insects that have a nutritional advantage many people are not aware of. According to Akhtar, bugs are good for people; they’re low in calories and fat, and high in protein, magnesium, calcium and vitamins.
Bugs are also very sustainable because they produce far less greenhouse gas emissions. “You can rear them in the lab or you can rear them at home,” said Akhtar, because they take limited space, water and food. It is cheaper to produce bugs than raise a chicken or cow in your backyard.
Akhtar suggests eating them by boiling and then baking them while adding spices, salt, lemon, herbs or chili. Insects can get very dehydrated during the cooking process so there is the option of grinding them and turning them into a powder. People can mildly incorporate bugs into their diet by sprinkling this “protein powder” into anything.
Currently, bug eating is uncommon in Vancouver, but one can get their fix at Vij’s Restaurant where grasshoppers are served on top of a pizza.
Akhtar predicts entomophagy will rise in the future. She plans to hold more tasting events and to teach a course on the preparation and eating of insects.
“Insects are cool,” she said. “Bugs are here to stay, so it’s about time we get over our fears and appreciate their benefits.”