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What is Entomophagy?

March 8, 2018

What is entomophagy?

So, what is entomophagy…essentially a fancy way of describing eating insects.

“insectivorous,” 1800, from entomo-, from Greek entomon “insect” (see entomology) + -phagous “eating.”

The history of entomophagy throughout the world is rich and diverse. The earliest known mention of entomophagy can be found in The Bible, where John The Baptist kept his energy levels up for all those baptisms up by feasting on a diet of wild honey and locusts.

We also see references from Ancient Greek literature, with Aristotle – the great man himself – referring to cicadas as being pretty tasty…and by no means uncommon to eat. And it shows as they actually invented what we are discussing today: what is entomophagy?

So, if entomophagy has been around since the earliest civilisation, why is it no longer common in the West? It’s a complicated answer but the main reason is that because of the climate, unlike for hunter gatherers in hotter countries, it never made sense to forage insects as they weren’t in abundance, so there would be more energy wasted catching them then from eating them. Since then, a cultural aversion has built up to the point where the very thought is disgusting.

But not so in the majority of the countries across the world. In fact, 80% of the wold’s nations are entomophagists and there are over 2,000 recorded species of edible insects. For example:

• In Southern Africa, mopane worms are a delicacy that can often fetch a higher price than beef in local markets
• In Mexico, chapulines (grasshoppers) often make up the source of protein in traditional dishes like tacos
• In Columbia, one of their favourite delicacies is the fat bottomed ant, which has been described as a like bacon with a dash of lime
• In Chang-Mai, Thailand, school kids collect crickets at lunch time for them to be fried as a delicious and nutritious mid-afternoon

The list goes on. But there are many reasons why entomophagy makes total sense and why we should be embracing insects as food, which you can read all about here

Eat Grub has made it our mission to show people in the West that entomophagy should be embraced with insects loved for the tasty, nutritious and sustainable food they are.