What Happens When You Eat Bugs for 31 Days : Days 0-3
By Laura D’Asaro and Meghan Proulx
This is post 2. To read post 1 on What Happens When You Eat Bugs for 31 days go here.
I’ll admit it: I fancy myself a bug expert.
As evidence, here is a picture of me and a friend dressed as green bugs for a tricycle race. Yes, I am wearing a laundry hamper.
No, I am not technically a professional entomologist (a person who studies insects), but I did cofound a company that makes food out of bugs.
Over the years I have learned a shocking amount about insects, their bodies, their habitats, and especially what they taste like, why they are good for us, and how they can benefit the planet.
Since we started Chirps I’ve eaten everything from skewered scorpions to black ant lemon cheesecake, bug burgers to mealworm tacos, and cherry cochineal beetle juice to good old fried caterpillar..
Pro tip: Start a insect food company and you will get invited to a lot of bug dinners.
So if you’ve only just now caught wind of the buzz about eating bugs here’s the deal:
Insects are some of the most (if not the most) sustainable sources of protein on the planet! This is because insects require so few resources, can be raised in cities close to home, and have the potential to cut down on food waste. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) including insects into our diet may even eventually be necessary to feed our planet’s growing population.
While I may eat more insects than the average American, I still don’t feel like it’s enough. What I really want is for the eating of insects not only to be normalized, but for insects to become a staple in people’s diets. I want people to top their salads with roasted crickets not because its daring, but because they are trying to be Earth and health conscious and because they genuinely feel that it makes their meal tastier.
I want to prove that it is possible to eat insects on a regular basis and be happy and healthy!
I mean, 2 billion people around the world are already eating bugs, so what do I have to do to get Americans on board?
So in attempt to discover what happens when you eat bugs for 31 days, I will be incorporating bugs into every meal and snack for the majority of this journey, and for the final week I will be eat nothing but bugs.
Rules, Regulation, and Stats!
Every meal that I eat for the first 3 weeks must contain bugs, And not just a few. I will measure the “bugginess” of every meal as “little”, “medium”, and “very”. These will be listed along with the recipes which will follow my updates
For the most part I will try to stick to “medium” and “very,” but I am not about to dump a ¼ cup of cricket flour into my morning coffee.
Here are my stats before starting the bug diet:
For reference, I’ve been told I am built like a Swedish, out of season Olympian.
Upper Arm: 10.25
I also got my blood work done including iron and B12. I’m generally a pretty healthy individual according to my blood work, so I don’t expect any crazy changes, but I am borderline low on B12! People always talk about how vegetarians don’t get enough B-12, but I was surprised to see my own numbers in the lower range, so we’ll see how that changes as insects are generally super high in B12.
I woke up this morning excited, intimidated, and hungry. I had an elegant dragon fruit smoothie planned for my inaugural breakfast, but I decided to start simple.
A banana and almond butter smoothie with cricket flour. I could do that! Anyone can do that, right? Right?
Well, aside from cleaning the blender, it was remarkably easy and delicious. Cricket flour is naturally nutty, and so it combines well with the almond butter and cinnamon. I was worried the cricket flour would make the recipe gritty, but it was smooth and quite filling!
1 meal down, 92 to go!
On most days, for lunch I typically grab something from a store or restaurant nearby and shovel it mindlessly into my face, over my laptop, and spill half of it onto my keyboard to the chagrin of those around me.
Today, lunch was a store bought salad with a hearty heaping of Aketta’s BBQ crickets on top. For the second time today I have put in little effort and reaped the benefits. These little guys hold their own similarly to sunflower seeds in a salad and I think even newcomers to entomophagy might find this meal inoffensive.
It was nice taking the time to make this meal look beautiful. I found that I appreciated the edible work of art I had created more so because of it.
My Day 1 My first dinner took a few attempts since I had never cooked crickets in a sugary sauce before. The sugar made them quicker to burn and left me with a blackened sticky mess. The team from Ovipost helped me out with this one and we were able to come up with a solid meal of Maple Teriyaki glazed crickets with black sesame rice and steamed broccoli on the side.
Today started early for me since I was unable to get back to sleep after my hamster (her name is Yeti) chose to celebrate the breaking of dawn with a light jog on her hamster wheel.
So I got up, dropped a spoonful of cricket protein into my coffee, and prepared my breakfast of apple cinnamon cricket oatmeal.
The flavor was pretty much unchanged from my normal cricket-less oatmeal so this was a great way to get some extra protein and vitamins into an average breakfast and.
It’s lunch time again and if eating cricket pasta with mealworm bolognese sauce in a public kitchen is wrong then I don’t want to be right.
This dish was a real winner and everyone in our co-working space who tried it said they could not tell the difference between this and a bugless pasta. One guy did seem shaken upon discovery of what was on his fork, but then went in for a second bite anyways.
By the time dinner rolled around today, it was 9pm and I was hangry. I was scrambling about my kitchen for something quick and easy, but the need to make it buggy too had me stressing. So speaking of scrambling, I whipped up some eggs and topped it with the non-burnt maple teriyaki crickets from last night. Voila!
Luckily today, my coworker Meghan made my breakfast, but I was not going to be able to catch her until about 10:00 am. So to keep the hunger pangs at bay I decided to try green tea with cricket flour.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I cannot explain how I did not see this one coming. Do not, I repeat DO NOT try that at home. The cricket flour did not mix at all with the tea, and just sat, floating on top like a pile of dirt.
To wash the unwholesome flavors from my mouth, our operations manager, Max, kindly made me a cricket chia pudding, but it was so gut-wrenchingly awful it could bring a grown woman to tears. Specifically this grown woman. I don’t think this is the right texture for me.
By 10:00 am, I was no longer in the mood for crickets, but Meghan was already preparing her coconut cricket protein waffles. It was too late. But then she put them in the toaster and the whole building began to smell of fragrant cinnamon, coconut, and butter. My stomach was persuaded and I was able to actually really enjoy these waffles.
Lunch was a straightforward, no-fuss plate full of cricket hummus wraps I had made the night before. I have more bugs on the way, but for now it’s a whole lot of crickets for me. These tasted great, as the hummus was homemade and the extra protein kept me full.
Today was one of the first times I felt weird about eating bugs.
I had a meeting with someone important at a local coffee shop and even after explaining to him why I was eating bugs for 31 days, he was still clearly perturbed by the sight of me pulling out a large bag of cricket protein and sifting it into my artisanal $5.00 cup of coffee.
Maybe next time I will ask the barista to do it for me.
For dinner tonight I had the help of my friend Coby and my roommates. Turns out people, or at least the people I associate with, are pretty receptive to the idea of cooking up some bugs, if for no other reason than to say they’ve done it.
Before he got to my apartment, Coby went to the liquor and inquired of the manager what beers he would recommend to pair with mealworm and avocado tacos. The store manager had no words.
The tacos were surprisingly meaty and the mealworms from Rainbow Mealworms cooked very similarly to ground beef. Mealworms have a higher fat content than crickets and a more similar nutritional breakdown to beef, which is why they are often used as a meat substitute. In fact, at Ikea, they are busy developing out mealworm meatballs with awesome reviews!
I attempted to make a side of buggy broccoli to go with it but I steamed my broccoli for so long that a toothless baby could have chewed them comfortably.
Side note: Rainbow Mealworms feed their mealworms only carrots and wheat bran.
I’m now three days in and aside from a few minor setbacks, things are going really well and I feel great!
I know it’s cliche, but I have really noticed the difference in my energy and fullness levels now that I am eating so much protein.
People are genuinely curious about eating bugs and way more open than I expected. The number of friends who have reached out and offered to cook with me has been fantastic!
And if you are wondering if this is enough food to fuel someone as tall and energetic as myself, it’s not. I’ve also been eating lots buggy snacks like cricket popcorn and milkshakes.
Recipes to follow soon!