Local teacher, amateur insect farmer explains benefits of a bug-heavy diet

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Bugs: are they pests or a nutritious snack? One Lansing man says the latter.

Eric Zay shows off his mealworms from his bug farm (source, WILX).

He's a science teacher, but he's also an amateur insect farmer and told News 10 how insects can be beneficial to your diet.

If you walk into Eric Zay's basement, you'll find some chairs, a few lamps, and two large stacks of plastic drawers. But inside those drawers aren't socks or stray tools, instead you'll find insects in all different stages of life.

"The oldest are here, and they get two weeks younger as you go up," Zay said pointing to the drawers.

He started insect farming about six months ago after stumbling upon a video when looking for ideas for a club for students.

"So I decided that I was going to teach kids how to grow and incorporate insects into their diet."

Zay says bugs are a popular dish around the world, and if you can stomach them, they have a lot of health benefits.

"Insects are actually classified as a superfood because of the very high content of minerals, nutrients, fats, and protein," he said.

On top of that, Zay says eating bugs is better for the environment.

"The meat industry now, particularly beef and pork, not just beef and pork, but those are the worst offenders, they actually produce more greenhouse gasses than all the cars in North America," he said. "It's a very important problem, both as far as feeding a growing population and trying to keep the earth from hitting that tipping point as far as climate change goes."

Whether its crickets, mealworms, or beetles that make your mouth water--or make you cringe, Zay just wants people to keep an open mind.

"What happens elsewhere in the world, affects us here too. I get that there's kind of an immediate ick-factor, I get that because I had it too, it goes away pretty quickly once you try them."

Zay says there are lots of different ways you can season the insects by feeding them. One of his favorites is cinnamon, which he says tasted like cinnamon bread.

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