Fifty years ago, most Americans hadn’t even heard of sushi. In the 1970s, this was a country content with eating pot roast, fried chicken, and Hamburger Helper. Raw fish and seaweed? Well, you might as well have asked these poor people to eat crickets and grasshoppers.
Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
It didn’t matter to these bell-bottom-wearing, super groovy, non-sushi eating Americans that more than 100 million people around the world were eating it. Sushi was different. Too different.
So, some really creative chefs started brainstorming ways they could get diners to try this cuisine. They started by making rolls featuring foods with which Americans were familiar. The California roll, made with cucumber, crab meat, avocado and rice, was a good first step for those daring enough to try sushi. Hmmm. Not bad.
Before long, Americans began sampling rolls made with eel, tuna and squid. Today, there are about 4,000 sushi restaurants located across the United States.
Could that same thing happen with edible insects? I think so.
But it’s not enough to tell Americans that 2 billion people around the world eat insects. As with sushi, entomophagy-minded entrepreneurs and chefs are going to have to start small. Get diners to try cookies or pizza dough made with cricket powder. With a little coaxing and some solid information about sustainability, they may step up to granola with mealworms or tacos made with grasshoppers. Eventually people will begin to think of insects as tasty nourishment and the ick-factor will disappear.
And who knows, maybe 50 years from now, grocery stores will stock cricket flour right next to the wheat flour and almond flour and cricket-centric restaurants will be commonplace.
Stranger things have happened.