SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Eating bugs may have a negative stigma, seen as disgusting by many, but LSUS Entomologist, Dr. Beverly Burden says the creepy crawly critters can be healthy for you.
"If you have a pound of grasshoppers versus a pound of chicken, the grasshoppers have more protein, by weight, than the chicken. And, that goes for cattle too," said Dr. Burden.
Many insects are high in protein, fiber, and iron. Others are rich in vitamins A and B, and are low in cholesterol. Dr. burden says it is for this reason more than 300 different ethnic groups in over 120 countries use bugs as a source of nutrition.
"People have been eating bugs since the millennium. It goes way back to when humans were hunter and gatherers," said Dr. Burden "If you go outside the United States and Europe the consumption of insects doesn't have that ooey, disgusting stigma attached to it at all."
If you are one of those people who say "Not in a million years", think again. You are more than likely already eating bugs, you just do not realize it. The Food and Drug Administration allows for certain products to have "food defect action levels", meaning it is unavoidable to keep some stuff out. For instance, cocoa beans can have up to 4% mold and 4% insect filth inside. And, wheat flour can contain a certain amounts of rodent filth.
"One of the two highest is peanut butter and ketchup. And so, we're already eating insects. You just don't want to think about it," said Dr. Burden.
Zack Lemann works at the Insectarium in New Orleans. He specializes in preparing "buggy" entrees for visitors interested in learning more about insects. Some of the items on the menu include Crispy Cajun Crickets, Chocolate Chirp Cookies, a wax worm relish, and a cricket herb dip.
"The question isn't why eat a bug. The question is why not eat a bug," said Zack Lemann. "Thirty years ago we could not find a sushi restaurant on every fourth corner in a big city. In fact, most people would go 'Raw fish! Are you crazy?' And now, people have discovered it and realized it is great. That might happen with bugs too," said Lemann.