Entomophagy. Entomo ‘what’? Most of our family and friends are now used to the idea, but wherever we go and explain what we exactly do, we suddenly see a lot of wrinkles, rising eyebrows and here and there a mouth that falls open. Then there is a polite ‘ahmhm’. So, we decided to write a blog post about our favorite topic: entomophagy!
Entomophagy is the human consumption of insects as food. In greek ‘éntomon’ means ‘insect’ and ‘phagein’ means ‘to eat’. While in Europe and North America we are not used to entomophagy, the consumption of insects is quite common in most parts of the world: South America, Africa and Asia. There are worldwide 2 billion people that eat insects as part of their daily diet! Yes, 2 billion!
We have been eating animals for thousands of years. In the United States and Mexico coprolites were found in caves with remaining’s of ants, beetles and larva. There are also cave paintings in Spain that show a collection of edible insects dated from 30.000 till 9.000 BC. This suggests that the first humans already put insects on their menu!
While you look at your steak, we look at the numbers
Despite thousands of years of evolution, we became narrow minded. While you look at your steak, we look at the numbers: with an estimated population of 9 billion people in 2050, it's necessary to find different ways to meet food and nutrition challenges of today and tomorrow. While 1 billion people are hungry, land is scarce, seas are overfished and climate is changing, insects are a serious option to consider.
Unfortunately, insects are not (yet!) on the menu’s of every restaurant and people prefer to ignore instead of trying. Getting used to new ways of eating doesn’t happen overnight. Fortunately there are now more and more initiatives and start ups who are introducing the western population to the consumption of insects.
Oh my bug
We discovered that insects are an amazing ingredient. Besides being small, insects are very nutritional and they offer great possibilities to give an original twist to regular recipes. Oh my bug was born out of the desire to combine the pleasure to cook and to experience new ways of eating while having a sustainable mindset. Grasshopper pizza? Stuffed aubergines with mealworms? Or maybe chocolate scorpions? The choice is yours. Try and enjoy!
Grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and locusts… It is sometimes tricky to call these jumping delicacies by their right name, so we wrote a quick sum up of their differences and we explain you how to recognize them.
All of these insects have the same general characteristics. They have a large body, thin legs and (most of them) large wings. While these insects belong to the same insect family and look quite the same, there is another reason for confusion: the French language. While we say ‘grasshopper’, the French use the word ‘criquet’ and when we use the word ‘cricket’, the french say ‘grillon’. Are you still with us? We won’t confuse you any further; this is why we made an overview to keep the family in order.
English French Dutch
grasshopper criquet sprinkhaan
katydid sauterelle sabelsprinkhaan
locust locuste locust (migratory grasshopper)
cricket grillon krekel
All these insects belong to the orthoptera family order. This name is Greek: ‘orthos' means ‘straight’ and ‘pteron’ means ‘wings’. This family has more then 20.000 members worldwide! There are more then 11.000 grasshopper species, 6400 katydids species, 900 crickets species and 12 locusts species. Almost all of them have a cylindrical body, long hind legs, antennae of different lengths and they can jump.
How to recognise them
From one species to another the difference are minor, but visible when you know what to look for. So, what should we focus on? The first step is to divide them into two groups:
- insect with short antennae (Caelifera): grasshopper, locust and close family.
- insect with large antennae (Ensifera): cricket or a katydid.
While we say ‘grasshopper’, the French use the word ‘criquet’ and when we use the word ‘cricket’, the french say ‘grillon’. Are you still with us?
If you hang in there until here, it’s time to make it a little more challenging: all locusts are grasshoppers, but not all grasshoppers are locusts. In fact, locusts and grasshoppers behave in a different way. Locusts are known for their density-dependent behaviour. For example, the act of swarming (gregarious phase) is the most notable and obvious characteristic that identifies a locust as a subspecies of the grasshopper.
And what about the differences between a cricket and a katydid? Scientists can see the difference between the two types of insects because crickets have three segmented feet, while katydids have four. But, apparently, the difference is easier to hear then to see: while the cricket sound is more musical to the human ear because the sound is pure and low, the katydid song sounds more buzzing, high and less pure.
And the most important question of all: are they all edible? In general it’s safe to assume that insects who have a brown colour are safe to eat. Does the insect have a bright yellow, red or green colour, it’s best to think twice!