Tasting insects is the key to capturing visitor's attention and teaching them about insects and the nutritional benefits of these species. / A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo.

-Published: Thursday, October 31, 2019-

Who wants to eat bugs?

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With more than 55 years of housing thousands of insect specimens, the Insect Museum of the University of Costa Rica has become a space for learning through the experience of tasting insects.

"For visitors, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting insects is an experience," says the Insect Museum in its statement.

According to Hugo Aguilar-Piedra, director of the museum, the most important thing for visitors is to learn that not all insects are harmful.

"Some are important in the pollination of plants. There are others that are natural enemies of pests, and we also find species of great beauty like butterflies," said Aguilar. "However, there are also insects that transmit diseases such as mosquitoes, bed bugs, lice or fleas, and in the museum, you can learn from all of them."

The tour inside the museum, which is located on the university campus in the San Pedro district, includes a visit to the kitchen where visitors have the option to learn how to cook simple recipes with insects as the main ingredient.

"Some people panic and others are curious to try an insect," said Aguilar. "Some try and others do not dare, but at least there is that stimulus to see something different."

According to the museum, tasting insects is the key to capturing visitor's attention and teaching them about insects and the nutritional benefits of these species.

"Everything we do has an educational purpose. We are providing information and we are putting people in contact not only with insects but with scientific knowledge," said Federico Paniagua-Rodríguez, who has promoted this idea since 2009.

According to the museum, about 2,000 visitors are come each year.

According to the Food Agriculture Organization of United Nations, the global edible insects market has shown strong growth pattern in recent years mainly due to a growing population and decreasing food resources, increased demand for protein-rich food, high cost of animal protein, environmental sustainability with production and consumption of edible insects, high nutritional value of insects, and low risk of transmitting diseases.

However, non-standardized regulatory frameworks across the globe, lack of awareness, psychological and ethical barriers, and allergies due to insect consumption are the major factors restraining the growth of this market to some extent, said  the Food Agriculture Organization.

According to the agency,  meticulous research in its latest publication on edible insect market states that the global edible insect market will increase at 23.8 percent through 2023 to reach $1,2 trillion by that year.

Geographically the Asia Pacific region commands the largest share in the global edible insect market. This is due to the presence of a diversity of insects and huge production, positive attitude towards the insect as food and feed, and no regulatory barrier to using insects as food and feed, the agency said.

However, North American countries are expected to see the fastest growth, primarily due to growing demand for environmental friendly high protein diets, aversion to highly processed foods, increasing demand for insect-based foods, presence of a large number of insect-based food product manufactures, and growing concern about meat production.

Insect Museum of the University of Costa Rica has available the line 506 2511-5318 to provide more information, to learn more about the world of insects, and to schedule a visit to the museum to learn to prepare basic recipes with these species.

Do you know how to prepare a recipe with insects? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to: news@amcostarica.com



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