Featured Article: “How to Develop an Appetite for Insects”
Scientists who study bugs are thinking harder about how to turn them into good food. In this lesson, students explore the stigma against eating insects, plus how and why researchers think we should undo it.
If insects were to show up in your next school lunch, how would you feel?
In “A Change in the Menu,” a winning entry from our 2019 Student Editorial Contest, Grace Silva urges Westerners to reconsider their aversion to bugs. Her essay begins:
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an estimated two billion people eat bugs as part of their standard diet. That’s nearly a quarter of the global population, and yet most countries in Europe and North America, despite the nutritional and environmental benefits, are fiercely reluctant to the idea of consuming bugs.
And she concludes:
The Western consensus is best stated by New York Times writer Ligaya Mishan: “Europeans, and by extension European settlers in North America, never had a bug-eating tradition. Indeed, we largely consider insects dirty and drawn to decay, signifiers and carriers of disease; we call them pests, a word whose Latin root means plague.” This is a ridiculous stigma that we need to shake. The adoption of bugs into a normal diet would not be unlike the transition from raw fish being largely unaccepted in America, to sushi becoming a normal meal option.
Have you ever eaten insects before? Are they accepted in your culture or country as a healthy part of a complete meal? Or do you generally regard them as “pests”?
What do you think about Grace’s proposal? If you’ve never eaten bugs before, would you be willing to try them? Why or why not?
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. What is entomophagy? Why is it in the news right now?
2. How did Christopher Columbus help deepen the stigmatization of entomophagy?