An interesting holiday gift – edible insects
As well as giving visitors the opportunity to view a diverse collection of live and naturalized insects, Montreal’s Insectarium now offers a new way to experience them — on your plate.
If you fancy trying a tantalizing treat of roasted almonds with grasshopper-lime salt, or energy truffles made with dried blueberries, pumpkin seeds and mealworms, they’re just a couple of the delicacies the Insectarium is offering in its adventurous new EntomoMiam box. The gourmet sampling boxes will be available just in time for the holidays.
Developed by chef-consultant and fine food creator Daniel Vézina, the array of cuisine aims to introduce food lovers to eating insects, known as entomophagy.
“I’d like the EntomoMiam box to open new flavour horizons and tantalize people’s taste buds,” Vézina said.
Quebec-sourced products from local producers also feature in the recipes. There’s dulse seaweed from Gaspé, honey from Miels d’Anicet in the Upper Laurentians, and products from Montreal-based edible insect farm TriCycle, which recently participated in the 4th edition of Insects to Feed the World — an international event to promote entomophagy and entotechnologies.
If you’re not too keen on seeing the insects you’re eating, they’re presented in non-intimidating ways. Ants are used in a syrup, and mealworms’ delicate hazelnut flavour is incorporated in a tapenade and shortbread.
Insects in the diet
Insects as a food source may not be the norm in North America, but in many parts of the world, insects are a valuable food source. According to a report by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an estimated two billion people worldwide routinely eat insects as part of their traditional diet. The United Nations says that more than 1,900 different species of insects can be used for food and nutrition. Eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults of certain insect species make an appearance in a variety of ways — crispy cicada salad toppings, tempura battered grasshoppers, stir-fried weevil larvae, and easy-to-use cricket flour.
Healthy and eco-friendly food
In addition to their enjoyable flavour, edible insects are high in protein and nutritional value. Locusts, which can be pan-fried or covered in chocolate are high in protein, zinc, and iron. Crickets are a well-known source of protein as well as essential amino acids, lipids and carbohydrates. The ease of farming crickets and other insects also makes them a sustainable food source and a possible solution to environmental and climate issues caused by large-scale livestock production. According to the Insectarium, insect farming produces less CO2 and uses less water than meat production.
“In creating the EntomoMiam box, the Insectarium has found yet another way to showcase insects and carve out a place for them in our lives,” says Maxim Larrivée, director of the Montreal Insectarium. “By including edible insects in our diet, we can go some way in helping to keep our planet healthy. It’s a type of protein “superfood” that doesn’t take up much space and can have a positive impact on biodiversity. And, by using less space, less water and fewer pesticides than is needed to produce meat-based food, we free up this space for the benefit of nature and biodiversity, including insects.”
Presented in an attractive gift box, the EntomoMiam box contains a variety of sweet and salty products for up to four people. It cost $49 at the Insectarium and is available at the gift shops at the Botanical Gardens and Biodome as of December.