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Local Expert: Eating Bugs Normal, But Take Caution

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The United Nations is promoting edible insects as a low-fat, high-protein food for hungry people throughout the world, but Chicagoans probably won’t be changing their menu.

Karen Kramer Wilson is the living invertebrate specialist at the Chicago Academy of Sciences and works with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

She says you can eat insects found crawling around Chicago but you need to be careful.

“There are lots of different insects and many of those have means of protecting themselves from being eaten. So you wouldn’t want to go out and just starting gathering up what you find in your yard and frying it up in your taco. You want to know what you’re collecting before you eat it.”

She says those who are turned off by eating insects probably like eating lobster, and that’s not a stretch.

“Lobsters are relatives of insects and so when you are cracking that shell of a lobster, you’re actually cracking that exoskeleton. Insects also have exoskeletons.”

And if you want to try the real thing the Peggy Noteabart Museum does offer them several times a year, including “fresh roasted grasshoppers baked right into chocolate chip cookies.”

And she says to keep in mind, eating bugs is really not that unusual.

“This is a practice that’s very common in most other cultures.”