The American culinary world seems to be trying out a new trend: Insects. Long accepted in the diets of other cultures, insects are a great source of protein and (apparently) flavor. Many sustainable food advocates have been encouraging Western cuisine to embrace insects as a food source, as they are plentiful and easy to produce. This will have to overcome some severe cultural resistance, as many Americans view eating insects as a very unappetizing prospect.

How are these food activists trying to overcome this resistance? By spinning how we look at insects. Recognizing the fact that we tend to view insects as gross, a British researcher told NPR, “We should think less about combating disgust and more about appealing to taste.” Some restaurants have even begun to call locusts (a delicacy in many countries) “sky prawns” in an effort to change how they’re perceived. Insects are also being included in desserts and candy, with the hope that a sweet tooth will prove more persuasive than environmental concerns in persuading people to try out some bug-based foods.

Faneuil Hall recently hosted a “Pestaurant”, where people could consume bug filled foods for charity. The Pestaurant tours the country, raising money for hunger and raising awareness about pest control. With fare like grasshopper burgers, roasted crickets, Mexican spice mealworms and ant lollipops, many wind up trying (and being pleasantly surprised by) food that they would not otherwise touch. People scarfed down crickets in an eating contest, and had food like “Chocolate Chirp Cookies”, “Clorm” Chowder (made with worms instead of clams). The food from these events are typically met with a positive review by those who try it, which suggests that the biggest barrier to the proliferation of insect based foods is convincing people to give it a shot.

The success of this Pestaurant may prove that making insects a mainstream foodstuff is not completely hopeless, though I’m not planning to jump on the bandwagon. While it’s certainly important to embrace sustainable food sources, I think I’ll stick with more traditional sources of protein.