Cicadas are coming to invade your dinner! Picture: Joseph Yoon
Cicadas are coming to invade your dinner! Picture: Joseph Yoon

Would you eat a cicada?

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published May 28, 2021

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Cicadas are coming to invade your dinner!

Brood X cicadas, which are also known as the “summer screamers”, are beginning to emerge along with it a creepy new food trend.

While many will probably cringe at a cicada's loud mating call and avoid them at all costs, some restaurant owners are taking the opportunity to make a meal of the insects. Gross right? Try them as a pizza topping or baked into a loaf of banana bread.

Chef Joseph Yoon educates foodies on his social media channel, @brooklynbugs, and prepares insect treats like cicada nymph salad, guacamole and kimchi. Restaurants are also incorporating cicadas on their menus.

Yoon has made dozens of dishes with the cicada nymphs he has collected. He plans to keep creating dishes that encompass every part of the life cycle of the Brood X bugs.

Researchers say these have been underground for 17 years and have been waiting for the soil temperature to be warm enough to come out, and it won't be until 2038 that we see this group again.

You may be wondering if they are safe to eat.

In 2019, the insect diet was predicted to be one of the biggest trends in SA. Trend forecasters revealed that incorporating edible insects into your diet was a healthy choice for us and the environment.

How so?

We spoke to Leah Bessa, the co-founder of Gourmet Grubb, a company that was the first in the world to create ice cream made from insect larvae, for some answers .

They are incredibly nutrient-dense

Every insect is unique in its nutritional profile.

However, they are all high in protein, fat and minerals.

The black soldier fly larvae (that we use extensively) have protein and fat content comparable to beef.

They also have a higher content of zinc, iron and calcium than beef (Deficiencies of these are found in developing and developed countries).

Sustainable and environmentally friendly to farm

Insects need very little water, feed, and space to grow.

They also produce little or no greenhouse gases compared to traditional livestock.

Insects aren't sentient beings, and they grow only under conditions in which they thrive, so the farming conditions cater to their animal welfare needs.

The unexplored flavours and textures from a range of insects for culinary exploration

Insects have been eaten in various traditions since the dawn of time, and most of that cooking knowledge is in traditional settings, leaving the Western world oblivious to the tastes and textures that insects can contribute to a dish.

With all the interest and search for new flavours and foods, insects offer a wide range of options that we can explore, if we are open to it.

Less climate risk

Insects are farmed indoors in controlled environments and therefore less at risk of being impacted by external climate patterns, which would affect traditional livestock and crop farming.

Potential to reduce waste

Some insects, like the black soldier fly larvae, can feed on a wide range of organic matter, and can thereby reduce some of the "waste" streams from food manufacturing.

For example, the spent grain (leftover from brewing beer) is used to feed the larvae.

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