Interest in edible insects has increased greatly since the 2013 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization demonstrated that insects offer an appealing option for a more sustainable livestock alternative. However, overcoming the cultural bias against insect consumption is necessary in order to see widespread adoption. In order to overcome the bias, it is important to first understand it. There is not a simple answer as to why westerners do not eat insects, but using the United States as an example, this paper works to untangle the history that western culture has with insects as food; a history that is stained by the colonial exploitation of native peoples. Notions that insects are a ‘primitive’ food source and the strong disgust response they trigger can be traced back to the 15th century and Age of Exploration. These ideas have persisted because of the perpetuation of European imperial attitudes and the unconscious transfer of the disgust emotion from parents to offspring for many generations. Fortunately, continued outreach events that normalize insects as food, especially those open to families, will be helpful in reprogramming mindsets that have been deeply rooted in our culture for centuries.
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