Eat Insects Instead of Cows?

Thailand is famous for its food. The unique blend of flavours, which abuse the palette, keeps tourists coming back for more. In addition to the spicy curries and flavoursome dishes, there is an obscure, some Westerners say at least, side dish or snack that is sold at Thai local markets. Many areas around Thailand sell insects, which have been deep fried.

Typically, it is grasshoppers, crickets, silkworms and bee larvae which are found. At the local markets, there are metal dishes with thousands of insects piled high. They smell fantastic, look weird and yet can be fairly nutritious. It is generally said that the taste is akin to popcorn or prawns. The Thais deep fry them with kaffir lime leaves, garlic and chilli, which transforms the snack into a tasty dish.

Normally, insects are fairly bland, that is why the locals cook them with other ingredients, but also they use them as a crunchy addition to soups, especially in Isaan, which is in the north east of Thailand. A typical insect is the maengda or maelong da na, which is a giant water beetle that has a taste similar to Gorgonzola cheese but is a great addition to any naam prik chilli dip. Ant eggs and silk worms are usually boiled with soups and curries.

Not only are insects a great source of protein, they are packed with immune system boosting vitamins and minerals. Termites are rich in iron, whilst crickets are an excellent source of calcium, perfect for those who are allergic to dairy products. The most nutritious of insects is the silk worm larvae, which has 100% of the daily requirements of zinc, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and copper. With these facts, who can argue that carnivorous humans should switch from eating cattle to insects as part of their diet?

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