Populist scientists generally agree that by 2050, Earth will see over 9 billion human inhabitants. By that time – recently published in a UN report – it is predicted that over 1/3rd of our protein intake will consist of edible insects – Silkworms are predicted to make up a large proportion of this amount. This means – like it or not – that eating silkworms as a food is going to be a reality. Insects on average require 6 times less feed per pound of protein, making them both an economically and environmentally responsible food choice
Although you may not be aware, and as weird as it may sound to us Western Cultures, like many insect species, Silkworm pupae are already eaten by many cultures – mostly in Asia, however also sporadically in some African, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European nations. For example:
- In Assam, they are boiled for extracting Silk and the boiled pupae are eaten directly with salt or fried with chilli pepper or herbs as a snack or dish.
- In Korea, they are boiled and seasoned to make a popular snack food known as beondegi.
- In China, street vendors sell roasted Silkworm pupae.
- In Japan, Silkworms are usually served as a tsukudani (佃煮). For this variation, they are boiled in a sweet-sour sauce made with soy sauce and sugar.
- The Vietnamese make a similar variation, however they are known as con nhộng.
- Silkworms have also been proposed for cultivation by astronauts as space food on long-term missions.