Eating insects is catching on

WE CALL food "grub" but would opening a can of worms give you butterflies in the stomach?

Chowing down on creepy crawlies seems to be a growing trend from groups of people as diverse as bodybuilders and environmentalists.

And it seems the reasons for entomophagy - the scientific word for eating insects- are as varied as the groups of people who choose to do it.

For bodybuilders it seems the numbers game is a vital factor.

Bugs are about 50% protein which makes them excellent fodder for bodybuilders aiming to pack muscle (protein) onto their frames.

Eating insects, mostly reduced to a powder, also gets around an aversion (for some) to the taste of the normally whey-based products available.

A drink using powdered crickets has a "pleasant nutty flavour" according to some who have tried it.

But the best bit, according to some users, is it works better than more traditional products.

Bug-powered body building might be catching on in the big smoke, but around these parts it's a no-go zone.

"Never heard of it," said The Daily Examiner's Senior Sportsperson of the Month for December Brad Clarke.

The Townsend-based Masters Musclemania World Champion was unaware of the practice among bodybuilders and not likely to try it himself, no matter how effective it might be.

Mr Clarke said it was not so much the yuck factor, but more an aversion to supplements in general.

"I hardly take any supplements at all," he said. "I'm more into good whole foods. Which means avoiding processed foods."

But if making a meal out of, well, mealworms, is going to catch on, we'll need to hear it from more mainstream folk than bodybuilders.

Which is where someone like the Clarence Valley's Causley Fresh co-owner Jess Causley comes in.

She has been stocking some products in her store and is considering expanding the range as the market grows.

"We have cricket bars, which are selling well," she said.

"People are saying they taste quite good.

"I have tried them and I would say I'm not as keen on them as other foods."

Ms Causley said most of the people prepared to eat this sort of food were doing it because they were health conscious or unhappy with the way traditional meat sources were grown and to help the environment.

"A lot of them are keen on sustainability," she said.

"They are not keen on the way chicken and other meat is raised and killed.

A more surprising sustainability argument was crickets were a bit easier on the atmosphere than other protein sources.

"Crickets don't fart as much as cattle," Ms Causley said.

But really we are a lot of food snobs.

Australian food packaging legislation acknowledges this by including rules on how much insect body parts it can tolerate per package.

It means every slice of bread or biscuit you eat contains a spot of bug wing or beetle leg.

Topics:  body builders bugs environmentalists food

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