Today’s post is a special combination post, continuing my Dining on Mars series and also my regularly scheduled Sciency Words series. Today’s new and interesting science or science-related term is:
When humanity finally makes it to Mars, we might not be going alone. We may end up bringing some insects with us.
To be clear, this wouldn’t be an accidental thing. No, we’d be bringing our insect friends on purpose. Why?
The word entomophagy comes from two Greek words meaning “insect” and “to eat,” and it refers to the practice of eating insects.
Personally, I’m not too keen on becoming an entomophage, but that has more to do with my cultural background than anything else. In many parts of the world that are not the United States or Western Europe, entomophagy is quite normal, and in the near future it may become an important means of feeding a growing global population.
But insects-as-food may be even more important for feeding the early colonial population of Mars. That’s because efficiency is the key to surviving on Mars, and insects make for an extremely efficient food souce. They don’t require a lot of room or resources compared to other sources of animal protein, and when you eat them very little goes to waste. I’m told with some species you’re supposed to remove the wings before cooking, but otherwise the entire insect body is edible.
Apparently insect flavors can vary a lot from species to species, and sometimes depend on what the insects ate themselves. I’ve heard certain species described as “nutty” or “lemony” or even “minty.” Others have more meat-like flavors. According to this article from bugible.com, giant water bugs taste like salted banana, and sago grubs taste a little like bacon. And pan-fried crickets with soy sauce taste amazing, or so I’m told.
Actually, after writing this post I’m feeling a bit hungry. Maybe I could get used to entomophagy after all. Anyone care to join me for lunch?