Skip to main content

A traveler's guide to eating insects

By CNN Staff
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 0517 GMT (1317 HKT)
Crickets are some of the most commonly eaten insects in the world and are regarded as a solution for the malnutrition problem plaguing Laos. Fried crickets and grasshoppers are sold at markets like this one in Vientiane. According to consumer feedback in the U.N. report, farmed crickets are tastier than the ones picked in the wild. Crickets are some of the most commonly eaten insects in the world and are regarded as a solution for the malnutrition problem plaguing Laos. Fried crickets and grasshoppers are sold at markets like this one in Vientiane. According to consumer feedback in the U.N. report, farmed crickets are tastier than the ones picked in the wild.
HIDE CAPTION
Anyone for cricket? Laos
Bamboo worm, Thailand
Spiders, Cambodia
Red tree ants, Cambodia
Mealworms, Netherlands (and elsewhere)
Scorpions, Beijing
Locusts, Beijing
Silkworm, South Korea
Worms, Taiwan
Witchetty grub, Australia
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.N. report argues more of us should eat insects
  • In places like Bangkok, eating things such as bamboo worms are the norm
  • Beijing's popular Donghuamen Night Market has quite the range

(CNN) -- According to a recent U.N. report, insects could be a solution to some of the world's food and health problems. They're nutritious, eco-friendly and abundant. Many countries already consider them a staple part of their diets.

So if we're all to start consuming locusts and scorpions, we can start in Southeast Asia for guidance.

They're a common sight in Bangkok.

Come nightfall, at any given outdoor market or busy road there will usually be at least one vendor with a pushcart loaded up with insect snacks, making many tourists squirm and others lick their lips.

Maybe you're in the mood for some fried crickets. Or perhaps it's the pile of bamboo worms that has you salivating. These bug vendors serve up to a dozen varieties of insects, which are usually fried in vegetable oil then sprayed with soy sauce to add some zing.

To locals, and some expats, these foods are not out of the ordinary -- they're part of the many meals on offer. Though most tourists prefer to munch on bugs for the shock value and to try something different -- check me out on Facebook/Instagram, how crazy am I? -- locals enjoy them for the flavor.

"Customers often like to eat fried insects while drinking beer, as a healthy and exotic replacement for popcorn or peanuts," one vendor says.

More on Thailand's fried bugs: A guide to Thailand's edible insects

Similar markets and food carts exist throughout Asia and other parts of the world.

Take some of the options at this Beijing night market -- fried scorpions, centipedes and locusts.

Going back to that U.N. report, it says 2 billion people around the world consider insects a delicacy or even a dietary staple.

Insects are generally high in nutritional value and beat out both meat and fish in protein content and quality. They're also rich in fiber and healthy micronutrients including copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.

This makes insects the ideal food of the future, the U.N. says -- not just for the above parts of the world but globally. They will help promote health, wealth and a better environment and go some way to addressing current and potential food shortages.

Not only does chomping on a bamboo worm win you likes on Facebook, it helps save the world. Extra 'like.'

Read more about the U.N. report here, via eatocracy.

We've put together, in the above gallery, just a tiny entree-sized smorgasbord of some of the many insects eaten around the world.

For those in the United States or visiting, this great eatcracy piece lists several insect servers.

Who's hungry? Let us know your insect hits, and misses.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 0049 GMT (0849 HKT)
As the new season of "Game of Thrones" approaches, we pick out 20 stunning spots in one of its most oft-used locations.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
They're hot, they're popular, they're stylish. Now they're your tour guides to Italy's fashion capital.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
A quarter of the year's flown by, it's time to plan a vacation. TripAdvisor's list of Top Destinations should help.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 0523 GMT (1323 HKT)
You may not have those $10 Heinekens and $6 bags of M&M's to kick around anymore. Happy now?
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 0725 GMT (1525 HKT)
Japan isn't a country to which you just show up and wing it. Here's how to arrive prepared.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
The Economist is latest to dogpile on the reputation of U.S. airports; one industry leader says he knows why.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 0623 GMT (1423 HKT)
Laojun Mountain Natural Reserve gave out bags of mountain air to Chinese residents. After seeing these photos, you'll want some too.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Forget space. Our very own planet is ripe for investigation. Here are some of the spots we know least about.
March 31, 2014 -- Updated 0651 GMT (1451 HKT)
A colossal empire of little houses stacked on top of each other, connected by staircases snaking under dangling wires -- Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 0141 GMT (0941 HKT)
Move to squeeze in extra passengers brings dose of economic reality to dreams of luxuriously pimped aircraft.
April 1, 2014 -- Updated 0803 GMT (1603 HKT)
British sound engineer wants you to ditch the camera and open your ears to "sound tourism."
March 30, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
Think bouncing on the end of an elastic rope is tough? Try jumping off a wooden tower with only a vine tied to your ankle.
March 28, 2014 -- Updated 0538 GMT (1338 HKT)
Decimated by poaching, black rhino numbers are starting to increase again, thanks, in part, to on-foot tracking tours for tourists.
March 28, 2014 -- Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)
Singapore Changi Airport has been crowned the best in the world for the second year in a row at the World Airport Awards.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 2202 GMT (0602 HKT)
What do you get when you combine 60,000 photos, eight-hour cliff treks and months of patient processing? One of the year's great time-lapse videos.
ADVERTISEMENT