Cicadas: Disgusting Pests, or the Food of the Future?
Sometimes, one man’s pest is another man’s pièce de résistance.
Miya’s Sushi is a venerable restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut, maintaining a particular focus on sustainable seafood and delicious sushi. Chef Bun Lai, a force in the sustainable restaurant world, has made Miya’s into a particularly noteworthy institution by doing away with some everyday ingredients such as tuna and shrimp, the production of which is environmentally destructive and decidedly unsustainable. Instead, Lai creates sushi using a few more unique ingredients, including one that may prove unnerving to some diners: cicadas.
Chef Bun plans to include cicadas on his menu starting this summer as part of his emphasis on healthy and sustainable eating. On his blog, Lai explains his rationale for cooking with the periodic invader during this summer’s cicada emergence. “Eating insects is, to me, mostly about changing the way we look things [sic] …We certainly don’t have to start eating insects, to make the world a better place, but we can make an effort to eat in a way that is much more open and aware.” He points not only to the much more humane and efficient way insects can be factory farmed as compared to large cattle, like cows, but also to a recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report that recommends insect consumption for reducing global hunger and improving nutrition.
So cicadas have long been a delicacy in places like China, and were even eaten in ancient Greece. But will they ever catch on around the world? Would you ever choose a bug over chicken or shrimp?