European Commission Offers $4.3 Million Prize To Encourage People To Eat Insects

Group Offers Multi-Million Dollar Prize To Get People To Eat Bugs

This was the summer of insects in the food world. Dana Goodyear wrote a piece on entomophagy -- insect eating -- in the New Yorker, Daniella Martin wrote one here on HuffPost Food and Angelina Jolie said her children eat crickets "like Doritos." So far, the activity has been mostly rhetorical -- people have been giving lip service to the ecological benefits of eating insects, but not that many people have actually been converted.

But now, the European Commission is putting money where all these foodie mouths are. It is offering a massive £2.65 million ($4.32 million) prize to the group that comes up with the best idea for developing insects as a popular food. The Commission is counting on cattle and other large animals being an increasingly untenable source of protein in decades to come, and hopes that some research group will be able to devise ways to convince people to eat insects despite the inherent "yuck" value.

The EC is also helping support a project by the UK Food Standards agency to investigate the nutritional value of insects. Insect meat is much lower in fat, and higher in calcium, than beef or pork. But the UK study is looking especially hard at any risks presented by eating insects.

If you want to taste insects yourself before they become the default meat for recipes of the future, you have a many options. You can go to Oaxaca, Mexico where crickets and grasshoppers have long been a staple on taco menus. You can visit a state fare, where maggot sandwiches are an up-and-coming delicacy. Or you can stop buy the grocery store and pick up a package of Nathan's frankfurters -- a recent lawsuit alleges that insects are an increasingly standard ingredient in hot dogs.

And if you want to see how culinary insects are raised, check out this video of a farm in Laos.

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