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Do people eat bugs?

Joseph Yoon
Brooklyn Bugs
Joseph Yoon

Yes! In many parts of the world, insects are a regular part of people’s diets. Bugs are an efficient source of protein, and many cultures find them delicious. Some countries, like the US, don’t have a strong culture of insect cuisine, but that’s starting to change as people look for ways to feed a growing global population without using as many resources as we currently do. So insects might be an important part of our future diets as well. With all the talk about cicadas this summer, eating bugs has been making news for adults. So, in this bonus episode, But Why learns about cooking up insects with Joseph Yoon, edible insect ambassador at Brooklyn Bugs.

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  • Protein is one type of nutrient, along with things like fats and carbohydrates, that your body needs to survive, and we get these nutrients from the food we eat. Protein helps you build, strengthen and repair your muscles and organs. Certain types of food have more protein than others. Things like eggs, chicken, yogurt, beans, nut butter and tofu are good sources of protein!
  • Insects are arthropods, meaning they have an exoskeleton–a hard shell on the outside of their bodies instead of a skeleton inside their bodies like humans. Shellfish are also arthropods and so people who are allergic to shellfish shouldn’t eat insects.
  • Some food coloring is made with insects. Red sometimes comes from cochineal, and is labeled as carmine. And it’s actually the cochineal insect that creates that color. So you may already be eating insects without even knowing it.
  • If you want to try insects, don’t just go out into your yard or the sidewalk and grab a bug and pop it into your mouth. Most insects used for food have been farmed to make sure they are healthy and don’t have any pesticides or other junk on them. 
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.

But Why is a project of Vermont Public.

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