(CNN) — Tried meatless Mondays? How about black fly Fridays or scorpion Sundays?
New York City-based chef Joseph Yoon started cooking insects four years ago for an art project. He now wants to change our perceptions of creepy crawlies so that we can have “delicious,” “nutrient-dense,” and “sustainable” insect diets.
“I absolutely love insects,” says Yoon, who is the executive director of Brooklyn Bugs, an organization that promotes edible insects. “The fact that they are so diverse, the fact that there are so many species of insects, the fact that we rely so heavily on insects for our own ecosystem and biodiversity is absolutely fascinating.”
The environmental cost associated with consuming livestock means there’s a need to find sustainable and high-protein alternatives. Chef Joseph Yoon thinks edible insects can be a tasty and nutritious addition to our diets.
A sustainable protein source
Feeding the world is an increasingly difficult challenge. Land is scarce and oceans are overfished, yet current food production will need to almost double to accommodate the 9 billion people that are expected to populate the Earth by 2050, according to the FAO report.
To help reduce the environmental impact of our culinary habits, Yoon wants “to normalize edible insects around the world, particularly right here where I live in America.”
Crickets, mac and cheese
But even for those who are willing to try, it’s not always obvious how best to incorporate insects into their diet.
“When people ask me how they should integrate crickets or insects into their food, one of the favorite ways I like to do it is simply in my favorite foods,” Yoon says. “You don’t have to think about making a new dish with a new ingredient but if you like to make fried rice like I do, I love making fried rice with crickets. I love adding crickets to my mac and cheese. You can add the cricket powder to the cheese sauce.”
Joseph Yoon’s cicada stir fry.
He follows in the footsteps of other insect innovators trying to change Western attitudes.
“When you think about insects — quite possibly one of the smallest organisms that we can think of … can one bug make a difference? Can one human make a difference?” Yoon says. “One of the really big driving factors of my work is that, yes, each one of us has a responsibility. Incorporating edible insects into your diet once a week can make a big difference.”