Food

Woman converts to a bug-based diet and says its better for the planet

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(Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

When it came to dietary fads and trends, we didnt think 2018 had much more to offer.

How naive of us.

We just hadnt encountered Joy Nemerson, the self-confessed former picky eater who has taken things to a whole new level of weird.

The 24 year-old from Philadelphia has added bugs, critters and tiny creatures as the main protein to her meals.

She has perfected a variety of unique dishes including ant eggs, cricket pizza, mealworm stir fry and fried grasshopper.

The unusual diet came about as a solution to her long-standing intolerance of certain foods, and a personal drive to encourage greater sustainability.

Joy says that she understands that it might not be everyones idea of a fine dining staple, but it hasnt stopped her from becoming a cheerleader for the insect diet.

Worm stir fry (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

Funnily enough, Joy could be on to something.

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A new body of research has shown that eating crickets could be good for the stomach, helping to support the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Joy told Mail Online: I do completely understand that staring a mealworm in the face and biting down on it can feel a little weird, but Ive got over it very quickly.

She has been a fussy eater since she was a teenager, which she attributes to a number of food allergies.

In 2017, a chance meeting with the CEO of Chirps Chips, a company that makes crisps with cricket protein, sparked a conversation about how to cook with bugs.

The more I heard about edible insects, the more interested I was.

I wanted to get started right away.

Cricket and mealworm pizza (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

But it wasnt just the personal health improvements that attracted her to a bug-based food lifestyle.

You read all these stories and reports about how were running out of the worlds resources, so this is a far more sustainable way of eating.

Insects are rich in protein and iron, just like meat – but without using anywhere near as many resources.

When you think you can get similar health benefits from a handful of crickets as you can from raising a whole cow, eating insects seems a much better option for the future of the planet.

Inspired by meeting with Chirps Chips, she travelled to Mexico City, where insect cuisine is by no means unusual.

This was all she needed for her enthusiasm to really bloom.

Beetle canapes (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

There were so many amazing options. I tried a fried grasshopper, which really did taste just like a barbeque crisp, as well as mealworm crackling.

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It tastes exactly like bacon – what could be better than that?

I also tried ant egg tacos. Theyre quite salty and sort of pop in your mouth like caviar.

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Joy explains that back home in the US, insect produce is harder to come by and other peoples attitudes are difficult to sway.

Although she can buy tubs of cricket powder online to make brownies, cakes, muffins, even smoothies, its still an uphill struggle.

And people arent always so understanding about her culinary requirements.

But that doesnt dim her enthusiasm.

Im always keen to educate people, though.

Last time I was at the market, I could see people looking at me buying the bugs, so I stopped to explain how healthy and sustainable they are.

Still, maybe thats one locally sourced cuisine we wont rush to try.

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