“Insects—part delicacy, part gag—are chic again,” contends New Yorker
staff writer Dana Goodyear in an August 15, 2011, article examining the rise
of entomophagy, or insect-eating, among U.S. gourmands, sustainability
proponents and more adventurous diners. According to Goodyear, “The
current vogue reflects not only the American obsession with novelty and the
upper-middle-class hunger for authenticity but also deep anxiety about the
meat we already eat—which is its own kind of fashion.”

She traces the efforts of enthusiasts like Montana State University entomologist
Florence Dunkel and James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef Award
winner José Andrés, both of whom want to acclimate local palates to the
insects enjoyed by 80 percent of the world’s population. “We need to feed
humanity in a sustainable way,” Andrés tells Goodyear. “Those who know how
to produce protein will have an edge over everyone else. World War Three will
be over control of food and water, and insects may be the answer.”

Known in some circles as “mini livestock,” insects as a food source have also
apparently attracted the attention of some Wageningen University scientists,
who in December 2010 published a study touting the many benefits of bug
consumption. As Goodyear enumerates, insects “are renowned for their
small ‘footprint’; being cold-blooded, they are about four times as efficient at
converting feed to meat as are cattle, which waste energy keeping themselves
warm. Ounce for ounce, many have the same amount of protein as beef…
and are rich in micronutrients like iron and zinc.” Moreover, because bugs are
genetically distinct from humans, “there is little likelihood of diseases jumping
species,” and they can be humanely farmed in bulk.

Still, as Goodyear concedes, enterprises such as Entom Foods, a startup
attempting to de-shell and process insects in cutlet form, have a lot of work to
overcome America’s cultural aversion to entomophagy. “The problem is the ick
factor—the eyes, the wings, the legs,” Entom Foods founder and University of
Chicago freshman Matthew Krisiloff was quoted as saying. “It’s not as simple
as hiding it in a bug nugget. People won’t accept it beyond the novelty. When
you think of a chicken you think of a chicken breast, not the eyes, wings, and
beak. We’re trying to do the same thing with insects, create a stepping-stone,
so that when you get a bug nugget you think of the bug steak, not the whole

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.