High in protein, low in saturated fat, vitamin packed and easy to rear. What sort of food source has such an impressive resume? Insects of course.
And although many still view them as creepy crawlies, Mónica Martínez, owner of the Don Bugito food cart in San Fransisco, Calif., believes Americans are ready to embrace entomophagy (insect-eating) and hopes the dish will at least gain acceptance in the United States, like sushi did in the last 20 years.
But here's a cue if you're already getting grossed out: they're already in the food you at in some capacity and, as reported by Fair Companies, 80 percent of the world already considers insects a source of protein.
Watch Martínez's story and see the demand surrounding the food truck (Note: if you make it to 6:20 you can even learn how to prepare the larvae yourself):
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/KYhN_qms474?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
Fair Companies reports that after initial squeamishness, the first time bug-eaters described Martínez's fried wax moth larvae tacos like regular tacos with a "pork rind"-esq crunch. Martínez also serves mealworms fried and seasoned with cinnamon on top of vanilla ice-cream (Toffee Mealworm Ice-Cream), like sprinkles. The tacos go for $8 and ice-cream for $3.
Fair Companies continues with diner opinions:
Most seemed ready to accept a new source of protein with relatively few questions.
One customer even questioned the question, “Is it weirder than eating a cow?”. Given the expense involved in raising a cow (both the resources required to feed and house it, as well as the hormones and antibiotics used in conventional farming), it would seem that bugs (with the best feed-to-meat conversion ratio of any other edible creature) have an advantage over more traditional sources of protein.
Martínez, who is also an artist dedicated to micro architectural structures (i.e. small farms), created a home mealworm farm called Wurmhaus as a nod to the Bauhaus humanist approach and a reaction to "contemporary agriculture and the practices of large-scale factory farms".
Even with some public acceptance, Fair Companies reports Martínez as saying she still doesn't believe mealworms will become a staple food group, but just hopes it gains acceptance.
And, it's worth noting, if you're stomach is still turning over the thought of a mealworm taco, the FDA has acceptable levels of insects allowed in our food. It's called "Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans." Ground cinnamon, for example, can only have 400 insect parts or less, per 50 grams. Canned mushrooms are allowed to have 20 or fewer maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid; if the maggots are more than 2 mm in size, only 5 are allowed per 100 grams.