Blog: Living It

I first heard about Bug Protein and Daniella Martin when I was speaking at the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) Conference.  I was intrigued by all of the great things people were saying so I had to learn more (and bring it to you).  I hope you enjoy this interview with Daniella as much as I did.  It is FASCINATING!

Daniella Martin cooks up a gourmet dish of caterpillars.

Daniella Martin is the host of Girl Meets Bug, the insect cooking/travel show. She is passionate about teaching people that insects are fabulous food – in addition to being the most environmentally-efficient animal protein source on the planet. Her dream is to increase public awareness and acceptance of edible insects, with the ultimate goals of helping to solve world hunger, supporting indigenous people, and reducing pesticide use with this cheap, eco-friendly source of protein.

Billy: Daniella, what sparked your passion for insect nutrition (eating bugs)?

Daniella: My passion for entomophagy was sparked while doing research for my thesis on pre-Columbian nutrition in Mexico. After having read about it in books, I first tried bugs while traveling through Oaxaca. As I sat down to eat the roasted grasshoppers I’d purchased from a street vendor, I was surrounded by children who all wanted some — they were literally eating them right off the table. I realized, “Hey, if the kids here like it this much, maybe this could really work in the US!”

Billy: What are the nutritional benefits of insects versus traditional foods?

Daniella: Insects are surprisingly high in nutrients. When I mention this, people say, yeah, but you have to eat a lot of them, right? The thing is, a handful of crickets is no big deal, and it’s easy to work into other dishes, just like meat is. Certain insects are higher in specific nutrients: larvae are high in omega fatty acids, larger caterpillars are high in calcium and protein, and crickets and grasshoppers are particularly high in iron.

Insect Nutritional Facts

InsectProtein (g)Fat (g)CarbohydrateCalcium (mg)Iron (mg)
Giant Water Beetle19.
Red Ant13.93.52.947.85.7
Silk Worm Pupae9.65.62.341.71.8
Dung Beetle17.
June Beetle13.41.42.922.66.0
Beef (Lean Ground)27.4N/AN/AN/A3.5
Fish (Broiled Cod)28.5N/AN/AN/A1.0

Data collected from The Food Insects Newsletter, July 1996 (Vol. 9, No. 2, ed. by Florence V. Dunkel, Montana State University) and Bugs In the System, May Berenbaum

Billy: What is the most common question you get about edible insects?

Daniella: The most common question I get is, why? Why should we do this, when there are so many other good things to eat out there? The truth is, that isn’t ultimately the case. Cows, pigs, and chickens require a lot of resources to raise; we don’t generally see this in the marketplace because these industries are subsidized. Meat costs a lot more in reality than we are currently paying for it — but the planet pays big-time. Some experts say that the livestock industry contributes more to global warming than the transportation sector. Meanwhile, oceans are overfished, and even soy has its drawbacks, with the phyto-estrogen issue. So bugs, which can be humanely raised in large numbers, with a minimum of resources, really are a great alternative

Billy: Let’s say someone is willing to give it a try.  What types of insects do you recommend someone to begin with?  You know, the easier ones to start with?

Daniella: The easiest gateway-bug is probably the cricket, because people often have a reasonably fond opinion of them. Also, they taste shrimp-like and nutty and are very versatile; you can grind them up into powder if you can’t handle the exoskeleton. If a person is a bit more daring, I highly recommend starting with a larva like a waxworm, because they are small, undeniably tasty, and have no crunchy exterior.

Billy: I heard great things from my friends who tried your insect recipes at the ISSN conference in Las Vegas.  Could you share a favorite recipe for beginners?

Daniella: A great first-timer recipe is crickets sauteed with garlic. All you need is olive oil, salt, crushed garlic, and a handful of fresh, frozen crickets. Heat the oil and begin sauteeing the crickets. When they begin to get golden and crunchy-looking, add the crushed garlic and salt to taste. Perfect inside tacos or atop salsa and guacamole.

Giant Fried Scorpion Recipe

Billy: Thanks so much Daniella! I love what you are doing! I know some people may think this is nuts and that’s o.k.  Before you rush to judgement take a bite. Try it once then make a decision. Anyone can be a critic.  Only a few are open-minded enough and fearless enough to live greatly.  With that said, don’t just pick up a bug from the corner of the kitchen and scarf it down.  Discover the correct way to prepare delicious gourmet insect cuisine.  Besides you wouldn’t drive up to a cow field and take a bite of one would you?  No, you need to prepare it properly.  You can find out how at Daniella’s awesome site

Do Me One Favor Please.

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Thanks! You Rock!

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