Examples of Countries Embracing Insects as Food

Approximately 80 percent of the world’s countries eat insects on a more or less regular basis. Bugs are collected from forests, deserts, freshwater ecosystems, agricultural fields, and farms. The small creatures are included in many cuisines in Asia, Africa, America, Australia and Europe. Insects are the most popular human foods in these countries:

world map with number of insect species that are eaten by region
Number of insect species consumed around the world (CSIRO)

China

Chinese restaurants offer critters on the menu. Roasted larvae from worms, water beetles or bee cocoons are consumed in many areas as gourmet foods. Chinese entrepreneurs are promoting edible insects, as well as online marketplaces. The Chinese people have an issue with obesity and diabetes, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Brazil

deep-fried tarantula
Deep-fried tarantula

In Brazil, they are revolutionizing gastronomy with dishes such as ant burgers, fried tarantulas, and chocolate-covered ants. People in this part of the world favor ica, queen ants, and other species. In the past, they were consumed by poor families. This isn’t the case anymore, as insects can be found in the menu of sophisticated restaurants.

Indonesia

It’s not uncommon to see people in Indonesia munching on cockroaches or flies. While you can’t get a traditional burger, you can get bugs cooked on the grill or boiled and served with shallots and coconut milk. Catching the creatures is difficult and it often involves the use of special techniques.

Thailand

A good place to satisfy your craving for edible insects is Thailand. Thais eat worms, grasshoppers, and crickets as snacks. Edible bugs are widely available. More often than not, they are cooked in certain dishes, such as pasta or ravioli. Here are street food insect carts from where you can buy tasty snacks.

insect street food in Tailand
Insect street food in Thailand

Mexico

Insects like ants and grasshoppers are used as main ingredients in traditional foodstuffs. Mexico has the highest number of natural resources, and they aren’t out of the ordinary. Edible insects for sale are affordable. Thanks to the old tradition of eating bugs, many companies are in business.

Ghana

Ghanaians rely on insect food, especially during the warm months of the year, when it’s food is scarce. They have a preference for termites, grasshoppers, and dung beetles. Sometimes the bugs are fried, while other times they are served with plain soup. Insect protein represents about 60 percent of the dietary protein. For people in Ghana, eating insects is essential for surviving.

Japan

hachinoko
Hachinoko on store shelves in Japan

In Japan, you can eat edible bugs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The silk moth pupae and the giant water bug are considered delicacies. You can find insects for sale online, but there are also vending machines offering bugs in cans. Examples of bug dishes are inago and hachinoko (wasp larvae and pupae). One company even has introduced a cricket beer where roasted crickets are added to the malt during brewing.

The United States

As surprising as it may seem, Americans eat bugs in restaurants. Insects are present on more and more menus across the US, while stores are offering insects for sale online. Consumers view these small animals as nutritious, sustainable food sources. What prevents Americans from consuming crickets all the time is the cost. The cost of insect protein is high due to the lack of mechanized harvesting. But all that will change.

Australia

In recent years, there has been a revived interest in entomophagy. Honey-pot ants, mealworms, and crickets appeal to the Australian audience. People here are willing to experience new things, not that eating insects is a novelty. Australian people have been consuming bugs as food for centuries now. Examples of dishes include roasted cockroaches and honey-flavored ants.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands are experimenting with all kinds of critters, making edible crickets completely normal. Dutch supermarkets have edible insects for sale, which means that people can enjoy goodies that tickle the taste buds, like chocolate with mealworms. Maybe the Netherlands will cause a revolution in Europe.