By Drew McLachlan
Chowing down on crickets or meal worms may conjure up old reality show episodes, or possibly your gag reflex, but a Toronto-based startup is banking on bugs becoming “the new sushi.”
Founded last year by five McGill MBA students, Aspire specializes in entomophagy, the practice of eating insects. The company develops methods for sustainably farming insects, while working with government organizations and individuals in order to increase the availability of edible beasties, hopefully providing extra income and a cheap source of nutrition for those in need.
Aspire is far from alone in its entomophagous pursuits. Last year, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a report urging more people, especially Westerners, to give the protein-packed critters a try. And the numbers seem to be on their side — insects are eaten by two billion people in 162 countries around the world, and nearly 2,000 species are edible. In the UK, Ento is breaking barriers by serving bugs as gourmet food at events all around the country. Online communities, like /r/entomophagy and Girl Meets Bug, have sprung up in recent years, as well as online retailers such as Hotlix, which specializes in products like salt and vinegar crickets and chocolate-covered scorpions.
If you’re interested in checking out the phenomenon (but not willing to wait for Sobey’s top start stocking centipedes), there are lists of edible bugs, and even cookbooks, to help with foraging. With a bit of culinary ingenuity, you won’t even need Joe Rogan to shout encouragement from across the dinner table.