Spearheading the movement to popularize insects as food in the Western world are entomologists Marcel Dick and Arnold van Huis of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The two are working under the umbrella of a federal $1.3 million research program to explore the possibility of using insects as food given rising food demands and production costs in a swelling global society.
In a recent publication, Dick and van Huis tackled the most controversial reasons regarding insects as a viable food source, maintaining that raising insects in a hygienic environment is cheaper, more nutritious, and more resourceful than raising a protein like cattle given increasingly expensive agricultural land prices, the rising risk of herd infection, production expenses, and the cost of fodder and water.
These factors led officials attending the Food and Agriculture Organization congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last year to warn that "beef could become so scarce as to be equated with caviar."
Even though meat might become a high-end luxury item, that doesn't mean that insects will instantly become a popular ingredient, taking the place of chicken and beef. Just like bison and chicken liver, the idea of insects as a protein may take some getting used to.
Towards that end, insect fairs, cookbooks and fan clubs are sprouting up all around North America, Europe and Asia as part of a global effort to make bug eating more mainstream.
While crickets on a stick might be too much to swallow for some, it's worth noting that the bug under your foot today could be dished up on your plate tomorrow.