Costa Rica Growing Edible Insects for Consumption in Guanacaste Hotels
“I’ll take an order of the garlic-sautéed grasshoppers and beetle larvae skewers, please.” No, this order isn’t being heard from the Eastern hemisphere, but instead, as scientists soon hope, from right here in Costa Rica.
Across the globe, many cultures commonly consume insects as part of their daily diet. However, this practice is all but the norm in the Central American country of Costa Rica. The idea to bring this culinary cuisine to Costa Rica was thought of by entomologist Manuel Zumbado. Realizing the countless supply of insect species living in Costa Rica’s rainforests, Zumbado recognizes this country as an ideal breeding ground for highlighting insects as an alternative food source.
Zumbado spent time researching the practice in the Republic of Benin in Western Africa, where a variety of insects are frequently found in native diets. Between his travels across Benin and Costa Rica, Zumbado has sampled endless types of insects in order to identify which species are most appetizing to the palate. Zumbado has also teamed up with Beninese scientists who retain a wealth of knowledge regarding the centuries-old practice of insect consumption.
Now in collaboration with the National Biodiversity Institute in Santo Domingo de Heredia, scientists from the food diversity program are studying indigenous species and engineering insects suitable for human consumption. Zumbado swears that with the appropriate seasonings, Esperanzas, a type of grasshopper, are “far more savory than shrimp”. Zumbado also promises naysayers that “it’s worth the effort to taste them”.
In Costa Rica’s northern province of Guanacaste, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, Zumbado has been promoting the concept to popular hotels and restaurants. With the endorsement of respected eateries, he hopes to encourage the public to partake in this culinary delicacy. Wearing a mischievous grin, Zumbado recommends that restaurants should place “a big price tag for the entree, so that clients appreciate it”.
It’s difficult to predict whether or not insect consumption as an alternative food source will catch on in Costa Rica as the nouveau modern cuisine or simply be seen as another passing fad. Regardless of the outcome, Manuel Zumbado truly believes in this gastronomic endeavor and hopes to change the face of eating in Costa Rica.