If, like us, you live in the East Coast of the US, you’ve probably stated to see some of the billions of bug-eyed cicadas that have returned after a 17 year absence. Cicada sightings are trending on Facebook and other social media sites, almost as frequently as reports of the devastation in Oklahoma and the outcome of the Jodi Arias trial.
I saw my first red eyed cicada on Sunday night…not while out walking my dogs or mowing my yard but in the Emergency Department of my local hospital! While I’m not certain if it was there as a patient or a visitor, it caused one of my EMS colleagues to run screaming from the room.
This got me thinking about what will you do when ‘swarmageddon’ hits?
Will you be locking yourself inside out of terror and to avoid the potential ear trauma resulting from the insects’ loud mating noises, or, will you be embracing the winged critters as a diet delicacy?
That’s right! Cicadas are an excellent source of nutrients and apparently one of the most versatile ingredients around. They can be deep fried, stir fried, skewered, blanched and even made into ice cream.
But you’ll need to be quick. Just like another delicacy – truffles – the season will be short. By the end of June, the 2013 cicada invasion will come to a close, and it will be another 17 years before we see them again.
“Cicadas are the shrimp of the land,” says entomologist Isa Betancourt . She explains: “They are arthropods, which means they have an exoskeleton. We regularly eat the arthropods of the sea … shrimp, lobster, and crabs.”
Better still, cicadas are high in protein and low in fat. Apparently they have a delicate nutty flavor and buttery texture and are best when they first emerge from the ground in the morning, still soft after shedding their skin.
And even though the thought of eating cicadas might give you the creeps, a U.N. report published this week, unrelated to cicadas, says consuming insects can help fight obesity.
More than 1,900 species of insects are eaten around the world, mainly in Africa and Asia. However, “in the West we have a cultural bias, and think that because insects come from developing countries, they cannot be good,” says Arnold van Huis, one of the authors of the report, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands,
As well as helping in the costly battle against obesity, which the World Health Organization estimates has nearly doubled since 1980 and affects around 500 million people, the report said insect farming was likely to be less land-dependent than traditional livestock and produce fewer greenhouse gases.
It would also provide business and export opportunities for poor people in developing countries, especially women, who are often responsible for collecting insects in rural communities.
Van Huis said barriers to enjoying dishes such as bee larvae yogurt were psychological – in a blind test carried out by his team, nine out of 10 people preferred meatballs made from roughly half meat and half mealworms to those made from meat!
Share your cicada, and other insect, recipes and experiences with us.