Bugs “Taste Like Chocolate”: Greens using Madagascar to Field Test Crazy Climate Friendly Conservation Ideas

Insect variety plate – Image from kittymowmow.com – click

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t CFACT – What do greens do when they find a fragile, isolated and desperately impoverished nation? The use it as a petri dish for their policy ideas of course.


03.05.19 07:00 AM

YOU, MY FRIEND, are living through a food revolution. In labs across the world, researchers are growing meat from just a handful of animal cells or engineering striking imitations of meat, including an entirely plant-based burger that bleeds. Human eaters are also starting to appreciate a rich protein source crawling around right under our noses: crickets. People have eaten bugs for millennia, but the Western world forgot that until recently. Companies are now racing to turn crickets into the (lucrative) future of food.

One group of researchers and conservationists, though, thinks it can also use edible insects to save endangered mammals. They’ve spent the past few years developing a program to encourage the people of Madagascar—who have historically consumed insects—to re-embrace bugs as a source of protein. That in turn could relieve pressure on endangered lemurs, which hunters target for bushmeat. The goal is to build facilities to raise and process crickets into a powder, which would create a reliable source of nutrition and jobs for a growing and often undernourished population, all the while saving one of the most iconic primates on Earth.

It’s not malice against lemurs—it’s a matter of survival. “You have to have breakfast before conservation,” says Brian Fisher, an entomologist with the California Academy of Sciences, who helped start the program. “But edible insects is modular—you can start really small and scale up to a family, to a village, to a region.

As for the taste: “The funny thing is that the cricket we have chosen, fried it tastes like a regular cricket, nothing special,” Hugel says. “But the powder tastes like chocolate. It’s very shocking when you just smell it.”

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/save-the-lemurs-eat-the-crickets/?mc_cid=588f257505&mc_eid=096fbd6be9

Nobody asked Madagascans whether they want insect protein. But desperate people will take any food on offer – especially if it tastes like chocolate.

No doubt when the Maduro regime finally collapses in Venezuela, the bug eaters will be straight in, field testing their climate friendly protein ideas a little closer to home.

75 thoughts on “Bugs “Taste Like Chocolate”: Greens using Madagascar to Field Test Crazy Climate Friendly Conservation Ideas

  1. I used to raise a lot of animals and birds that “we thought” at the time were dependent on insects not only for nutrition…but conditioning for breeding…
    The nutrition in insects is totally whacked…gut loading doesn’t work their guts are too small

    …and there’s nothing that will give a bird hypocalcemia and grand mal seizures faster…..

    • let’s hope they raise the bugs in better conditions than we raise cattle in feedlots and battery bred chickens 😉

      Actually, many bugs taste pretty good fried up. Quite nutty flavour. It’s just a case of culture that it freaks us out.

    • See this piece of steak? I know it isn’t real, but I don’t care. I want it to be real. So I tell myself it’s real and I chew it and taste the steak and the juicy juices and I swallow it.

      Was that the red pill or the blue pill that does that? If these people want to eat bugs and artificial meat and all that other stuff, fine. They can.

      I can find a small farmer who will sell me half a steer for $XXX dressed, wrapped for the freezer, flash-frozen, and packed in ice, and throw in about a dozen chickens as a bonus.

      I’d say stock your pantry. These people are out of their teensy-weensy minds.

  2. Another example of the ironically named “Progressives” wishing to take us back 5000 years.

      • While in the Congo during the 60s’, we ate flying ants that tasted like peanut butter, just as a novelty not necessity.

        • The real nutrition frontier is in re-discovering the primordial benefit humans have obtained from fermented foods. kefir, sauerkraut , miso, fermented bean pastes in general, Natto etc.

          Why would the chicken, livestock, agricultural, fish farm, etc industries not skimp on making sure their animals/crops have sufficient Bacillus Subtilis spores added to stock feed.

          Human medicine is far more primitive than farm medicine.
          We are only recently wakiung up to the fact that nearly all bacteria in a non sporulated form make it to the gut/GIT (gastro intestinal tract) So there is little if no benefit. Bacillus in spore form do however make it…farm medical science has known this for some time. So much for probiotics lol

          “Supplemental Bacillus subtilis DSM 32315 manipulates intestinal structure and microbial composition in broiler chickens”

          • That should be…* “…We are only recently waking up to the fact that nearly all bacteria in a non sporulated form (live) do NOT make it to the gut/GIT (gastro intestinal tract)

            Notes Eratta: Kiran Krishnan, a microbiologist on youtube “Microbiome Labs”

          • Hi Mike from Au, – My reading comprehension may be poor, but I think you are saying ingestion of Bacillus subtilus is desirable. This is true for certain strains, however not all B. subtilis are benign; many are considered problematic for humans.

            Here’s my favorite microbial ingestion lore. During the 2nd WorldWar the miltary corp of Rommel in N. Africa suffered from diarrhea while native guides did not. A German medical officer noticed that at the onset of symptoms the natives consumed some fresh camel dung & in laboratory analysis found the region’s camel dung contained a species of bacteria responsable for the cure; it was a kind of Bacillus called licheniformis (if my memory is correct named B. licheniformis friedrich).

          • Camels are incredibly fussy eaters and so their dung is notorious for being selective of certain Bacillus Subtilis strains that are beneficial for human consumption.

          • ” A German medical officer noticed that at the onset of symptoms the natives consumed some fresh camel dung”

            The rest of the time they just smoked it ! It’s the main constituent of “rocky”.

      • R Shearer

        Scotsman says to the barman “Oi there’s a fly in my whisky.”

        Barman says “I’m terribly sorry sir, let me get you another.”

        Scotsman says: “Away son, just put more whisky in, the poor things feet are touching the bottom of the glass”.

        Boom Tish!

        • Good one.

          It might tickle a little on the way down, but I wouldn’t waste any good whiskey. I’m fond of Midleton Vary Rare (Irish Distillers), very much. And Suntory Hibiki Harmony is surprisingly nice.

  3. If the Greenie/Alarmists stop breeding and start eating only bugs, then there will be so much more available to the normal members of the population in the future.

  4. There’s going to be a call for those Madagascar hissing cockroaches yet. I knew I was just ahead of the curve. (Raising them, not eating them. I eat meat and plants.)

  5. Meanwhile, Sci Channel revealing that leading edges of wind mills de-laminating due to sand, hail and everything but the birds they are chopping up….they say the engineers screwed up….again….

  6. I thought insect populations were in precipitous decline worldwide. Do they propose we all raise our own supply or do we go bug shopping at the local Rural King?

    I can see it now, huge bins of dead bugs with scoops and scales.
    Fresh live insects would be in the refridgerated case.

    • I’ve been to Madagascar markets, and indeed, there are bins of dead grasshoppers, sold by the scoop. Never tried them, but the local Zebu beef was excellent.

  7. Eric, you are bad and getting worse. The Western World has a lot of experience with bugs for protein. Remember in Mark Twains book “Roughing It”, as he crossed from Utah to Nevada he saw Paiute Indians (sorry, I don’t know the politically correct designation of them now) crawling around on their hands and knees eating Mormon Crickets, which I think are a type of locust, and look like really fat grasshoppers. I think I will continue eating steaks from the grill, thank you very much.

    • Ron,

      Actually Grasshoppers, properly prepared are quite delicious. In fact they are referred to as ‘Prairie Shimp’.
      Ate many of the wee beasties growing up in Kansas as part of the Boy Scouts. Troop used to go camping with no food supplies, foraging for what we ate. Lamb’s quarters, Stinging Nettles for greens, Duck potatoes and grasshoppers. Sand peaches for dessert. Good times.

    • Following one of the loneliest roads in America, the Pony Express Trail in Utah, we stopped at Simpson Springs Station.

      The ground, rocks, seats and many walls, were covered in Mormon crickets.

      Mormon crickets are a large armored flightless katydid.
      Surely with so many large plump juicy bugs all of the birds that we could see and hear would be stuffing themselves… Not!
      I didn’t see any bird eat a mormon cricket.
      An observation that negated any interest I would have in eating the critters.

      Natgeo has a wasteful 30 second commercial, but you can get an idea of mormon crickets here.

      If you like solitude, following Utah’s Pony Express Road is the way to go. We didn’t see another person, driving, riding or walking for six hours.

    • The last time they ‘marched’ thru here I watched ravens tear the “Mormon Crickets” apart but not eating any, the roads were all a bright brown color and the State had to put signs up trying to get people to slow down. Didn’t see anything actually eating any of the “Mormon Crickets”…..

    • You’ll have to fight the seagulls for the Mormon crickets. They love them. A flock flies out over our five acres every spring to gobble up the bugs. (Only useful thing seagulls do, of course…)

      ATheoK must have hit on a day when the seagulls were full.

      • Never saw any seagulls along the Pony Express trail in Utah. There might be some near the water exposures, but there aren’t any at Simpson Springs Station.

        I tried offering some to a raven watching us. Nothing doing. Cookies he took, cherries he took, Mormon crickets he waddled away from.

  8. People have lived in caves for millennia, but the Western world forgot that until recently. Researchers and conservationists should lead the way. And remember, no fossil fuels.

    • Why stop at caves, C G?

      Women all around the world spent millennia dying in childbirth. Is that something we should be inspired to return to?

    • They already did.
      Researchers and conservationists spread disease to bats, infecting untouched populations through their contaminated boots, clothes and gear.

  9. “The funny thing is that the cricket we have chosen, fried it tastes like a regular cricket, nothing special…”

    Fried? Fried?!?!? These people are advocating eating FRIED insects? Don’t they know that fried foods are linked to serious health problems like type 2 diabetes and heard disease? How heartless can they be to impose the obesity epidemic of the West on the starving people of Madagascar?

  10. I attended Oregon State University back in the day when it was called Moo U and female only West Hall was called the Nunnery. There was an anthropologist professor that required students to eat bugs for a passing grade. They were quite good. Just sayin.

    • I’ve got no problem with people eating insects of their own free will – but making your students eat something, or exploiting poverty and desperation to try to create a showcase for your ideas seems a little heartless.

      • Hi Eric – how would you feel about making them eat a prawn? A Moreton Bay Bug? Lobster, yabbies, crabs … not much different from insects except they are generally larger and easier to harvest. Well, making someone eat anything now would probably not be allowed, but Western biases against insects as food are interesting. The new fad about eating insects to save the world, though, is beyond inane.

        Pamela: when I was at Moo U it was most infamous for the giant beaver poster on the way into town and the annual Beavers vs the Trojans game. No Nunnery that I recall, but lots of rain and walnuts in the streets and mushrooms in the hills in the fall – very useful for starving students.

    • Pamela, I was at OSU from 64 to 73 with 2 years out for Viet Nam. The girls from West Hall were not Nuns. Just Sayin.

      • I had turned 17 in July and arrived as a wet behind the ears Freshman that same year. Hadn’t figured out what men were used for except to buck bails and handle heavy farm equipment. Until I finally got my nose out of a book that is. Then all bets were off. Small town redhead. Campus filled with farm boys. Do the math.

  11. People’s preferences change. Americans eat about 30% less beef per year than we did in 1970, while our poultry consumption has more than doubled.

    It used to be socially unacceptable for mainstream society to eat lobster. The stigma against lobster was so strong that they were only served to slaves and prisoners.

    I predicted a while ago that progressives will make eating bugs chic. I think some high profile chef will figure out how to make bugs tasty, then some high profile celebrity will endorse it. Progressives like to think of themselves as edgy trendsetters. All it will take is a few high status people and other influencers to endorse bug eating and it will start a trend. Bug eating will be seen as both an act of anti-establishment rebellion and an act of morality as early adapters will moralize about what wonderful people they are “saving the planet” by eating bugs.

  12. Bug eating never went away in many cultures & some even fetch premium prices. For more extensive descriptions of the many edible insects just type the word “entomophagy” into your search engine.

    As for a sole source of human nutrition bugs are not being promoted. Different ones have various amino acid/minerals/fatty acid profiles. Subjective taste descriptions also are reported & now one from Madagascar evokes “chocolate.”

    Crickets have been popularized more recently due, in part, to their relative productivity in mass production. YouTube has lots of videos of people rearing crickets & not just hobbyists, but profitably.

    As for insect preparation I found whey fermented “yellow” mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) larvae kept fine under refrigeration for at least 12 months. These adult larvae were washed (& culled), sanitized a several minutes in boiling water, cold rinsed, anaerobically fermented in whey for several days & refrigerated packed in whey. To use: a portion of larvae were rinsed, blender homogenized with a bit of fresh water & then the chitin (exoskeleton) was filtered/sieved off. The fluid extract was then used as a food preparation ingredient in assorted dishes, including juice beverages, with good organoleptic results according to my gringo tastes.

    • Bug eating never went away in many cultures & some even fetch premium prices.

      We go to Maine every year to engage in sea bug feasts.

  13. Today I heard two left wing folks on the radio mocking us for worrying about AOC wanting to take away our hamburgers. Talk about not paying attention.

  14. gringojay, you might want to consider that knowing something doesn’t make it a great idea to tell everybody about it.

    • Hi David H. , – Your statement is hard to take seriously & unless you are a WUWT moderator “… you might want to consider that …” I have no need of your advice on how to behave here. On the other hand, responses relevant to the content of my WUWT comments are welcome if you have any.

  15. If the coming climate apocalypse justifies trillions of dollars to abandon fossil fuels, then alarmists can demonstrate sincerity and leadership by consuming insect protein. Otherwise, they can bug off.

  16. If I ever tasted a chocolate that tasted like a bug I would literally CALL the FDA on the phone and wait on hold to report the manufacturer, facility and lot number.

  17. I liked the way this article from wired backs up it’s statements by hyperlinking to other wired articles.

    Also, while I do not disagree with the claim that humans have eaten bugs throughout history, I think you will find that in nearly all these cases the society that regularly chowed down on bugs was the society that was only two meals away from starvation.

    There is ample evidence that cultures throughout history that had the opportunity to feast on meat, feasted on meat.

  18. Last year, King Soopers had an e-coupon for Chirps Chips. They are made with cricket flour. I like trying different foods. Actually, I thought they were pretty good, but I wouldn’t buy any undiscounted product because of the high price.

    • Flavor precursors of chocolate are developed by acetic acid bacteria as cacoa beans fermentation goes on. About 3 days fermentation are required for flavor development.

      Processing steps then include reducing (after refining) the water content. Evaporation takes away the acetic acid & aldehydes (volatiles) which otherwise hold down flavor & aroma.

      So we chocolate fans are reliant on rot. When different sourced chocolate is touted the strain (& initial cell count/gram) of Aceto-bacter found in the freshly opened pods is important.

      High quality cacao tree varieties also contribute what the fermentation had to work with. For example “Criollo” originally from Central America/Venezuela produces a milder, fine nutty flavor, “Nacional” originally from Ecuador produces a more fine floral atoma, & “Amelondo” originally from Brazil produces an intense cacao flavor.

      I am not sure why the cited cricket can taste like chocolate. My guess is due to it’s microbial symbiont(s) & not carcass.

      Whether they host an Aceto-bacter that is indirectly responsible it would seem the pathway is going to be different than in cacao bean fermentation. Fresh cacao pods are acted on by yeasts which generates ethanol in ~48 hours & acetic acid Aceto-bacter oxidize the ethanol to acetic acid.

      Maybe the cited cricket hosts a kind of yeast symbiont that breaks down the insects’ plant feed cellular pectin bound poly-saccharides (“sugar”); giving a “sugar alcohol” that a co-symbiont Aceto-bacter can act upon. Cacao mucilage has poly-saccharides that pectini-lytic yeast break down.

  19. I’m all for this.
    Everyone on the left can eat bugs and tofu.
    The rest of us can eat beef, lamb, chicken and pork.

    Fair deal.
    They get to save the planet.
    We get to eat real meat.

  20. … People have eaten bugs for millennia, but the Western world forgot that until recently …
    We have also forgotten many other quaint primitive eating habits like appreciating fresh human corpses — most of us anyway.
    It’s useful to remember that the film Soylent Green (1973) based on a novel written in 1966 was set in a future dystopia around 2022 when “… natural resources [are] exhausted, nourishment of the population is provided by Soylent Industries, a company that makes food from ocean plankton …” (Wiki).
    In 1966 the total world population was ~3 billion, 1.64 billion (~50%) in extreme poverty, now the total is 7.4 billion with 733 million (~10%) in extreme poverty.

    • funnier still is there now IS a brand name SOYLENT
      rather amused me…wouldnt be buying their brand though;-)

  21. “In labs across the world, researchers are growing meat from just a handful of animal cells or engineering striking imitations of meat…”
    -Matt Simon

    All the more remarkable, because when you look at Matt Simon’s thumbnail, he looks like a classic soy product.

  22. If you are repulsed by something, there is probably a very good reason that this trait was passed along to you by your forebears. It might no longer be valid, or it might save your life. Fear of unfamiliar big insects is one of those. Putting whole animals in your mouth is another.

  23. Re Chocolate as a source of paranoia – London Underground trains used to have adverts which stated: “If you stare at this advert for five minutes you will see the words “Fruit and Nut”. You will then be a Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut Case. Somehow I don’t think “Larva and Bug” would quite fit.

    • 1853 Cadbury granted “royal purveyor” status for Queen Victoria. Back then their technique for smoothness was to “melangeur” using a rotating granite pan with rollers refining the post-grinding cacao fat (cacao butter) with sugar added.

      It was Lindt in 1879 who developed rollers creating back splash & slap of the post grinding bean “liquor “ (mixed with sugar) that generated friction heat rise over time reducing the particle sizes creating smoother ingredient to work into chocolate – the technique became known as “conching” in regard to the apparatus shape. Lindt pioneered adding the conching step after the melangeur step (which is probably so named from the Swiss chocolatier Cailler started in 1819).

      Molded chocolate bar fabrication is attributed to the 1847 Fry family. They managed to reduce the viscosity by mixing cocoa powder with the melted cacao butter & sugar.

  24. “Companies are now racing to turn crickets into the (lucrative) future of food.”

    Stephen Fry ate one of these on Qi and spent the rest of the program trying to hack up a kidney… The footage of this has been vanished from You Tube. No doubt by the CIA , the Bildebergers or the Elders of Zion…

  25. They are taking us for dung beetles- only a dung beetle should be swallowing that much BS. Even dung beetles do not chase their BS down with Kool aid. You have to be totally unable to think to swallow such BS.

  26. I calculate that to consume 2000 calories a day, the caloric requirement of an average person, you would need to eat about five and a third pounds of crickets. I don’t think I could handle that. I know I’m not going to try.

  27. How about introducing chickens to Madagascar? They are environmentally friendly and much easier to raise and catch than lemurs. By the way, lemurs are not that common that they can serve as a major food source.

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