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Posted: Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:36PM

Are bugs the new pork?

Beef prices have been up in recent months, sending more consumers to chicken and pork. If those prices start going up, then what? A group of food scientists meeting in New Orleans this week says maybe the answer is crawling around on six legs!

A panel discussion at the Institute of Food Technologists meeting suggests insects as a viable alternative to traditional animal protein. The panel touted the smaller environmental footprint caused by bug harvesting.

Entomologist Florence Dunkel from Montana State University says there are 85 species in the U.S. alone that make good eating, including locusts.

"You're supposed to take the wings off before you really eat them...the head is the best," she enthused in a video interview posted to YouTube by the IFT. "Maybe some soy sauce, or saute a little bit with butter."

Watch Prof. Florence Dunkel discuss and eat insects:

Dunkel says squeamishness over eating bugs is primarily a western hang-up, and notes they're more common in areas like Thailand, Uganda and parts of Latin America.

She also said the impact from harvesting bugs is much smaller on the environment.

"We're using way too much water to produce the food for the cows and the beef and the other large animals that we eat," she said. "Insects are way more efficient in using the food that we give them."

(image courtesy Audubon Insectarium)

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