An estimated 2 billion people worldwide eat insects because of their nutritional value, an important factor in places where conventional food sources are scarce. The United Nations reported that “edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans.”
In the United States, packaged insect food is still a novelty being promoted by entrepreneurs hoping to overcome the “ick” factor with Americans. Most bug consumption in the U.S. occurs inadvertently because insects are processed in other foods and sometimes they are used as ingredients in baking, such as cricket flour.
When the average person thinks of Swiss food, chocolate and cheese are usually the first two kinds to come to mind. But now, a novel kind of food is creating a literal buzz in this country. Burgers and meatballs made from insects will hit grocery shelves monday at the Coop supermarket chain. It marks the first wide distribution of bug bites in the EU.
This summer the retailer had already made a splash with another first, it’s cannabis cigarettes that it sold in seven hundred stores in the nation. “We have always been at the forefront when it comes to finding new trends and offering innovative products to our customers,” spokesperson Andrea Bergmann told USA TODAY.
The sale of insect-based food was made possible by a new law passed in May, which allows consumption of crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms; as long as they are bred and kept under strict sanitary conditions.
Though the Federal Office for Food Safety says on its website that no other country in the European Union authorizes the consumption of insects, there are a few other locations offering these foods, such as the United Kingdom restaurant the Grub Kitchen, as well as a handful of outlets in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Insects have long been consumed in Africa, Asia, and some parts of Latin America. Fried spiders are a delicacy in Cambodia, fried or grilled worms ar ea snack food in Thailand, and ants are common in China, Brazil, and Mexico.
The burgers and meatballs that will go on sale in Switzerland contain mealworm — the larval form of the beetle. Rice, carrots and various spices are added for taste, which ranges from “spicy to oriental,” according to the products’ manufacturer, Zurich-based Essento Food AG.