A Brief History of Entomophagy (Eating Bugs)

Consuming crickets might be a recently rising trend, but the origins of buggy bites and insect snacks go back all the way to ancient Greece. As agricultural practices changed (and advanced) entomophagy, in turn, changed with the times. While some cultures continued to use insects as a source of food–such as China–others began to perceive them as pests that ruined their crops, which is why cricket eating is still a very new concept to many. 

But, for thousands of years, different civilizations have been intrigued, and sustained, by eating bugs, and for a long time, these critters were considered specialties. This is, of course, well before the days of cricket powder in protein bars, chocolate-covered insects and fried termites–around 10,000 BC.

In ancient Greece, cicadas were a delicacy, and even the famous Aristotle spoke about how the cicada harvest season and how delicious they were. In ancient Rome, the citizens also believed beetle larvae to be a “gourmet” food.

Entomophagy even made its way into the Old Testament book of Leviticus, which dubbed rabbits, pigs, pelicans, mice, turtles, and weasels unacceptable for eating, while granting permission to eat locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers:

“Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.” – Leviticus, 11:22

Pretty crazy, right? John the Baptist, in the desert for months at a time, lived on locusts and honeycomb. Locusts were a nutritious, cheap and plentiful food source for ancient Algerians as well. They’d collect them by the thousands and boil the insects in saltwater, then leave them to dry in the sun. And Australian Aborigines made meals of moths, cooking them in hot sand. 

Even back then, the health benefits of eating bugs wasn’t uncommon knowledge. Insects have always been a valuable and efficient source of protein. And, as they say, all trends eventually make their way back around. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) claims over two billion of the world’s population eats insects and that more bugs are consumed (or used) in Northern America than we might think; a common ingredient in red lipsticks and red candies is cochineal, an insect from South America used for red dyes.

Though the show Fear Factor and the book How to Eat Fried Worms might have given us a skewed vision about the practice of eating bugs, western culture is beginning to steer away from the “dare” or “bet” mindset that comes with eating insects. Athletes utilize them in meals for their numerous health benefits and pregnant women make them part of everyday meals to get lean proteins to their growing babies. 

Also, be sure to check out our post on Crickets for Gut Health

We’re getting back to our roots these days, becoming stronger, healthier individuals thanks to these little crickets and critters, and it looks like this time the trend is going to stick.

Interested in learning more about the health benefits of crickets, how to cook cricket powder and entomophagy in modern-day? Check out our previous articles:

Be well,

Le Cricket Queen

Health benefits and facts found through HealthPrep.com and People’s How Stuff Works.

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