Creepy, crawly insects are just one good marketing makeover away from becoming the "superfood" those who love them want to see it become.
An event called Insects to the Rescue took place in downtown Montreal on Tuesday and brought together people who advocate for eating bugs.
Science project manager at the David Suzuki Foundation, Louise Hénault-Ethier, said that insects are a staple in many ecosystems. She said other parts of the world already eat them, but not Europe and North America.
Humans should start eating them too because they're nutritious and an environmentally sustainable protein, she added.
"After overcoming the 'ick factor,' they generally taste good," she said.
To overcome that "ick factor" a lot of producers have started powdering insects to be added to food — instead of expecting them to be eaten, eyes, legs and all.
High in protein, iron
But because the market is still small, the price for that powdered protein is high — $63 for a pound of cricket powder.
It's worth the cost, according to cricket protein bar maker Naak. Crickets have twice as much protein as beef and twice as much iron as spinach.
The company says cricket protein also requires 2000 times less water than beef to produce, making it far more environmentally sustainable.
Rudolph Riche started the company a year and a half ago because he was doing a lot of triathlons and was looking to create a food that was ecofriendly and efficient.
"People aren't used to it but more open-minded than expected," he said.
He admitted that some people have problems with the idea of eating insects.
"They can say that it's disgusting, so the main obstacle is that we have a lot of education to do," Riche said.
Mariano Franco, the co-owner of Ta Chido Restaurant in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood, said word of mouth is warming people up to trying the insects he serves.
"They're like chips. Salty, crunchy," Franco said. "Lots of people want it, when they're drinking, so we offer this with a shot."
Some of the insects on the menu include fried or roasted grasshoppers.
Right now, there aren't many kinds of insects that are readily available and economically feasible, Mariano said he tried serving beetles in tacos but they made the price of the taco triple.
He hopes more widespread consumption will bring down the price.