|Looks yummy, huh? Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plateau_van_zeevruchten.jpg|
Terrestrial invertebrates, on the other hand, we interact with on a more regular basis. We stomp on them on the sidewalk, we swat them when they land on our wall, we curse them when they eat our plants. We see what they are doing, and we know what they are eating. Our terrestrial ecosystem is the same one shared with them, and therefore we know more about them. And people don't really like to eat things that they know more about, especially when its one of the largest terrestrial arthropod groups, the insects.
Insects share many of the same characteristics as their larger kin, the Crustacea, which is again one of the favorite types of seafood for people. They have a hard, jointed exoskeleton, and a muscular thorax (or head-thorax in crustacea, called a cephalothorax) and abdomen ("tail" in shrimp). Both groups share the same muscles, or "meat", but the biggest difference in edibility is how much meat there is relative to how much exoskeleton (how much work you have to do to get past the hard shells to get to the meat). Insects have a relatively high amount of shell to meat ratio, but they taste very similar to seafood. Yes, over the years I've eaten lots of different insects, and they can taste great!
Because insects are so numerous compared to seafood invertebrates (whose populations are declining due to habitat loss, over fishing, etc.), there has been a push to change the way people see insects. Other countries and cultures have been eating insects for centuries, but it hasn't really taken off in America or European countries. Denmark has been on the fore-front of this issue, though, and several other European countries have been pushing for insects to be used instead of meat for protein sources. Even here in the United States, we have started to see some offerings of insect fares in popular culture!
|Some wares found at the Pop store in OKC. Yes, I've had the Crick-ettes!|