Grasshoppers are a strong, protein rich snack and can be crushed by the handful.
On a recent road trip, I broke bread with some colleagues at El Dorado Cantina, a well-regarded Mexican restaurant. The joint is known for their locally sourced, high quality food. Their menu included sautéed grasshoppers. I ordered them for the table, and the rest of the men just sort of glared at me confusedly.
I’m fine with the initial discomfort that a new culinary experience brings to a group. Americans, as a whole, tend to avoid eating insects, though this is not the way of the rest of the world. Remember, we preach questioning our assumptions around here. From scientificamerican.com:
When confronted with entomophagy, many people express disgust. It’s an interesting response. It has a biological basis in the form of distaste, which prevents us from consuming foods that are potentially harmful. For example, eating rotting food or food that has toxins is probably a bad idea. We interpret the ways these types of foods taste as distasteful and we learn to avoid them. But we also learn disgust through the reactions of others. Wrinkled nose, a grimace, and physically stepping back are all social cues and they can be applied to almost anything…The challenge will be to get people to see insects differently. Food perceptions can change. Right now, somewhere, there is a person having sushi for the first time. The concept of “raw” is no longer disgusting. So you know, the next time the opportunity presents itself, in the words of Andrew Zimmern, “If it looks good, eat it.
The action (read: risk) sparked solid conversation as I squeezed a lime over the enormous plate of bugs.
“They sort of taste like pumpkin seeds,” one of my partners shared. I agreed. They had that same hint of bitterness, and their preparation left them salty and crunchy, just like a good snack should be.
I exited the table thinking grasshoppers would make a good baseball snack. I envision bags in the dugout, the same way seeds are eaten now. It’s an acquired taste, without question, but once accepted, the health benefits are indisputable. From fitday.com:
Grasshoppers are commonly eaten in Mexico. After being washed, they’re toasted with garlic, lime juice, and salt. These crispy snacks are actually very high in protein. Per 100 grams of a larger grasshopper, there are about 14 grams of protein. They are also low in fat at 3.3 grams and low in carbs at 2.2 grams. They contain 3 milligrams of iron, which is about 16 percent of the recommended daily value.
Now that we’ve covered flavor and health benefits, we can address sustainability for you bleeding hearts. Suppose you want to eat less animal flesh because you think we’re running out, or you fear slaughtering your chickens because you broke rule number one and gave them names. Surely you’re down to add insects to your diet, right? From chicagoist.com:
We should all be eating crickets by now. No protein source is simply more sustainable than this gateway bug, fast making its ascendancy into mainstream diets as cricket flour-fueled protein bars and baked goods take more than TED Talks by storm. Cricket farmers, however, are struggling to meet demand and lower their product’s price in the process.
Damn overpriced crickets. Wait, I can stroll out into my yard. They’re everywhere. I’m thinking labeling, packaging and marketing at this point. Think I’m kidding? Join me.