Bugs for Breakfast: How Eating Insects Could Help Save the Planet
by Mary Boone
120 pages; ages 9 and up
Chicago Review Press, 2021
Mary Boone got interested in breakfasting on bugs back in 2013, when the United Nations issued its report about using insect protein to feed the world’s growing population. Then, while traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia, she had the opportunity to snack on fried grasshoppers at a local market. She was hooked, and wanted to learn more… and just about a year ago her book Bugs for Breakfast hit bookstore shelves. Somehow, my copy burrowed down into the hidden depths of my book basket…
Here's what I like about this book:
1. Mary introduces the topic of entomophagy (eating insects) in a way that makes sense for kids who might be interested in trying out some cricket snacks – and for those who want to know why moving from conventional animal protein to insect protein makes environmental sense. She writes in a conversational way, tossing in the occasional joke (watch out for cricket legs caught in your teeth!) and points out that many people around the world incorporate insects – from mopane worms to cicadas to beetles – into their daily meals.
2. One chapter compares insect farming to conventional livestock farming. For example, the amount of land (space) and time required to produce 490 pounds of beef could be used to produce 1.3 million pounds of edible insect protein. Cattle require a lot more water to convert grass to meat than crickets do – and cows produce tons more methane than insects. Lest you wonder, yes, insects fart.
3. You’ll find nutritional information and recipes, along with the assurance that you’re already eating bugs. Yep, the USDA allows a certain amount of “bug parts” in food. Not only that, some foods rely on insect by-products – like the bug shellac used to make shiny chocolate coatings on certain candies.
4. There’s a whole chapter devoted to answering the question of whether incorporating insects into your diet can help save the world. The short answer: yes. And there’s a hands-on guide for how to raise your own crickets.
I had One Question for Mary ~
Me: How have you incorporated entomophagy into your diet? And do you think it has made a difference in your corner of the world?
Mary: I'm a big fan of cricket powder -- much more so than whole insects. I use it in smoothies and I sub it for some of the flour when I make cookies or banana bread. Do I use it all the time? No. It's expensive. Right now, most cricket farms are really small and labor intensive. When we get to a point where farms can scale up and they're able to automate some of the production, I think prices will come down and cricket protein will become more appealing to more people. Is what I'm doing making a difference? I think so. Every time I share a cricket-powder cookie or chips or bread with someone, I like to think I'm getting them to consider their own diets and opening their eyes to the whole issue of farming and sustainability. It's baby steps, but that's how most movements begin.
Mary Boone has written more than 60 nonfiction books for young readers. You can find out more about her, and download a teacher’s guide, at her website
Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.