Entomophagy – Some Reasons the West Does Not Eat Bugs

The idea of eating insects is relatively unknown in the western portion of the Northern Hemisphere.  In western cultures insects are considered pests and thought to transmit diseases and quite a cultural taboo.  Despite the disgust in our part of the world, insect eating is common in most other areas of the world with roughly 1,400 different species of insects known to be eaten in 80% of the world’s countries. In fact man has eaten all stages (eggs, pupae and adults) since prehistoric times and insects provide all of the essential amino acids and proteins which are in limitless supply without the environmental impacts of cattle & poultry. So why is it that we have an aversion to Entomophagy in the United states and much of Europe?

roasted insects

The reasons are unclear but Anthropologist Marvin Harris suggests cultures that have other protein sources that require less work to obtain, such as cattle or chickens, are less likely to accept entomophagy. While Gene DeFoliart, a professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests that after Europe became agricultural based, insects were seen as destroyers of crops rather than a source of food. Some have suggested it could even be based on how we live. In the tropics, houses are somewhat different than what we are very familiar with. There is not a desire to keep weather or nature out and they commonly do not have screens on their windows. One must learn to live “with” the insects instead of removed from their presence.


Whatever the reason for our dislike, it might be something new for that adventurous soul. Come on, we eat oysters!

If you want to learn more about entomophagy, check out some of the resources below.

Insects are Food

Mail order insects:



Picture credits:

main photo: Retrieved from: http://www.peachygreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/eating-insects.jpg

second photo: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/09/why-how-and-where-you-should-start-eating-bugs/