Food Tourism,  Sustainability

Can Grasshoppers Be
a Sustainable Food Source of Protein?

Chapulines, Grasshoppers and  Crickets -are a strange and exotic food for most people.  Many times, one finds themselves uncertain when confronted with the possibility of putting one of these crunchy bugs in the mouth. Some adventurers, actively go in search of edible grasshoppers. It is becoming a popular food for the international exotic cuisine crowd, as well as a dietary staple for many who have eaten insects their entire lives. It has been said that humans have been consuming insects as a dietary staple for more than 5 million years. The name for this practice? Entomaphagy.

As the topic of sustainability is a serious topic, certain subtopics such as how changes in diet can be more sustainable – such as eating grasshoppers, can be a more light-hearted and even occasionally humorous topic for discussion.  

The serious matter here is what is happening in the world now. Environmental issues have led to locust infestations in areas in Africa. Kenya, which now has 17 counties infested, and Ethiopia are currently in the midst of the worst locust infestation either of these countries has seen, in decades. As this second wave of locusts is said to be many times worse than the first wave, and the infestation is coinciding with the current crop growing season, these countries are facing an unprecedented threat to their national food security.

One may question: Why not eat the locusts, since they are such a menace?  It is true, that locusts and grasshoppers are very similar. Locusts are considered edible and are consumed in many parts of the globe. The underlying complication is consuming locusts is the amount of pesticides that have been utilised to combat the locusts invasion. Consuming any amount of pesticides can prove lethal to humans and thus, people are extremely cautious about making a meal of something potentially contaminated with pesticides.

The World Bank claims that insects will be the food of our future, as they are being considered a ‘nutritional alternative to feeding the world’. Breeding insects as food can also help to bring income to some of the world’s poor. 

With the popularity of the high protein diet like the Keto, Atkins, and  Paleo diets comes a new wave of nutritional value fact-checking. So we would like to share with you the nutrition levels of grasshoppers so that you can relax in the fact that grasshoppers are a keto-friendly food for all you low-carb dieters out there!

Aside from the realm of popular dieting, the chapuline is actually a very healthy meal – regardless of ones’ dietary perspective. They are consumed originally because of the high protein values. They are easy to digest and are said to help improve digestion.  Grasshoppers are a fiber rich food and they also contain loads of calcium, magnesium and zinc which are all important nutrients for the human body.

According to My Fitness Pal and The Food Insects Newsletter, 100 grams (1 dl)  of grasshoppers is 110 calories. It contains 5 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat & 14 grams of protein. 

If you are basing your travel plans around a desire to consume grasshoppers, then some of the destinations you are looking at are in Thailand and Ghana. In  Nicaragua however, the grasshopper is considered a bad sign.

If you want to experience this crunchy cuisine, but aren’t at a locale that offers it at the moment, we have found a good recipe for grasshoppers:

‘Pophoppers’ (New name for Popcorn Grasshoppers. Do you like it?):

  • 2,5 dl / 1 cup  Grasshoppers  
  • Remove legs & wings – run under or soak in water to clean before cooking
  • Place in freezer for 2 hours before cooking
  • Warm oven to 100C / 220F
  • Remove grasshoppers from freezer after they have been in the cold at least 2 hours 
  • Place in a mixing bowl
  • Sprinkle lightly with olive oil, salt & pepper
  • Hand mix gently that grasshoppers don’t break
  • Spread out on baking paper and place in oven for 2 hours

They should be crunchy when done cooking. 

Enjoy your Pophoppers!

*If you are a heavy spice person, we recommend adding some ground chilis to your olive oil mix! 

As sustainability efforts go, consuming grasshoppers as a form of protein is a form of sustainable consumption, as it regards to the food security issues the world is currently facing. 

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