GREEN
02/07/2014 12:42 pm ET | Updated Feb 08, 2014

Daniella Martin Wants To Save The World One Insect Meal At A Time

Daniella Martin is so buggy for bugs that she had toasted crickets at her wedding, and regularly makes tacos, pizzas and sandwiches using crickets, mealworms and drone bees.

Martin has been a committed entomophagist (the term for grub-loving gourmets) since living in Mexico during college where she developed a taste for fried grasshoppers flavored with lime and chili, tacos made with wax moth larvae, and caterpillar tamales.

She believes the world will be a better place if insects and arachnids become a regular part of the Western diet.

In her new book, " Edible: An Adventure Into The World Of Eating Insects And The Last Great Hope To Save The Planet " (Amazon), Martin makes the case that incorporating insects into the Western diet is more environmentally friendly than eating chicken or meat, because it takes fewer resources to raise a pound of crickets than a pound of beef with a comparable amount of nutrition.

But she says there's a more important reason why people should eat insects: They taste great.

"The flavor profile is most similar to mushrooms, shrimp and nuts," she told The Huffington Post. "On the other hand, the taste of a fresh waterbug is mind-blowing -- like an anchovy wrapped in a perfume-soaked banana peel. Waterbug essence is used in Thai cuisine in sauces."

Insects are standard menu fare in Latin America, Asia and Africa, but not so much in the U.S., mainly because of the yuck factor associated with bugs.

"It's amazing how much the brain gets in the way," she said. "But things like smoked oysters also take some getting used to."

Martin remembers how eating sushi used to be joke fodder for sitcoms in the early 1980s, but is now served at dinner tables across America three decades later.

She concedes bug eating could face more of a challenge.

"I think it's most likely to start through the use of cricket flour," she said. "People feel better about using ground-up crickets in breads or pizzas than eating the bugs."

There's also another avenue: The local bar.

"Insects go really well with beer," she said. "Plus, they have less fat than peanuts and fewer carbs than pretzels, while adding protein and fiber."

Some of Martin's favorite bug dishes include:

  • Waterbugs
    Daniella Martin
    Martin says waterbugs blow the mind of even the most seasoned gourmets. She compares the taste to that of an anchovy wrapped in a banana peel soaked with perfume. "It's intense."
  • Waxworm Tacos
    Daniella Martin
    Martin says wax worms taste like a cross between pine nuts and gnocchi mushroom. They are commonly served in tacos in Mexico, but she suspects they could be used in pesto sauce as well.
  • Waxworm Breakfast
    Daniella Martin
    The mushroom-tinged flavor of waxworms makes them a great addition to egg dishes or sauteed with mushrooms, Martin said.
  • Scorpion Tempura
    Daniella Martin
    Scorpions taste a lot like crab or lobster, according to Martin, who likes their white flaky flesh. Unlike those crustaceans, scorpions can be eaten shell and all.
  • Tarantula Roll
    Daniella Martin
    Deep-fried tarantulas taste like "an earthy lobster," Martin says. In Cambodia, tarantulas are marinated and grilled until they have a taste she describes as being "beef jerky Doritos."
  • Spicy Mealworm Pizza with Cricket Crust
    Joel Butkowski
    Martin says mealworms taste like nutty shrimp, but have more exoskeleton (and more crunch) than wax worms. The crust in this pizza includes ground-up crickets.
  • Earworm Tamale
    Daniella Martin
    Earworms spend their whole lives in a corn husk. As a result, they taste just like corn on the cob, according to Martin.
  • Crickety Kale Salad
    Joel Butkowski
    Martin likes to substitute crickets for croutons in her salads. She coats them in oil and garlic salt and oven roasts them until they're crisp.
  • Cricket Ice Cream Topping
    Daniella Martin
    For sweeter dishes, Martin cooks her crickets in butter, with salt and a touch of sugar.
  • Cicada with Asparagus
    Daniella Martin
    Martin loves cicadas but says they have to be eaten in season. Best when they are in the nymph stage, she calls them the oysters of the forest.
  • Ant Pupae
    Daniella Martin
    Martin loves the pupae from weaver ants, which live their lives in mango trees. She recommends it sauteed in garlic or ginger with red pepper, but also loves it marinated like ceviche.
  • Bee-LT
    Daniella Martin
    When Martin makes her "Bee-LT," she uses stingless drone bees that were purposely purged by beekeepers. She mixes the bees with egg white to bind them and cooks them in a pan with salt and a drop of honey. She says there's a bacony mushroom flavor that she loves.
  • Daniella Martin
    Joel Butkowski
    Daniella Martin says she's never gotten sick eating an insect, but recommends staying away from "urban bugs" that may have been exposed to pesticides and other toxins.

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