Most of the time, culture changes gradually. It gets pretty exciting when it changes all at once, though. We may be on the cusp of such a shift in the culinary world, if we can wrap our heads around it.
Whether you think about it or not, what we eat makes up a huge part of our identity. Many people define themselves on some level by whether they're vegetarian or gluten-free or paleo. Very few people in Western societies will brag about eating insects, though. A new study from Switzerland's University of Bern looks at what could get Westerners to turn to bugs for protein. It's not as gross or as far-fetched as it sounds at first — many non-Western societies have no problem at all with eating insects, and given the environmental costs of traditional meat industries, this shift could be both ethical and green.
This means it all comes down to marketing. The Swiss study found that Western consumers are not likely to overcome their distaste for edible insects when they're sold as eco-friendly or healthy. What did get them to consider the option was framing insects as a luxury good. By conferring status on confections like a mealworm chocolate truffle, study participants were not only more likely to try the item, but to rate it highly.
It's not unheard of — after all, lobsters are invertebrates and resemble insects themselves; before it was a delicacy, it was only fit for consumption by convicts and the poor. So if your favorite Instagram influencers start touting the delights of eating insects, get ready. That's when it will get a lot more normal.