Eat the Beetles!: An Exploration into Our Conflicted Relationship with Insects - ECW Press

Eat the Beetles!: An Exploration into Our Conflicted Relationship with Insects

Waltner-Toews, David

  • Will eating insects change the world for the better?​

    Meet the beetles: there are millions and millions of them and many fewer of the rest of us — mammals, birds, and reptiles. Since before recorded history, humans have eaten insects. While many get squeamish at the idea, entomophagy — people eating insects — is a possible way to ensure a sustainable and secure food supply for the eight billion of us on the planet.

    Once seen as the great enemy of human civilization, destroying our crops and spreading plagues, we now see insects as marvellous pollinators of our food crops and a potential source of commercial food supply. From upscale restaurants where black ants garnish raw salmon to grubs as pub snacks in Paris and Tokyo, from backyard cricket farming to high-tech businesses, Eat the Beetles! weaves these cultural, ecological, and evolutionary narratives to provide an accessible and humorous exploration of entomophagy.


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    David Waltner-Toews is an epidemiologist, veterinarian, and writer specializing in ecosystem approaches to health and disease. He is the founding president of Veterinarians without Borders. Previous books include The Origin of Feces, The Chickens Fight Back, and Food, Sex and Salmonella. He has also published fiction and poetry. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario.


  • Published: May 2017

    ISBN: 9781770413146

    Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.

    Pages: 276

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“Waltner-Toews punctuates this serious subject with his quirky humour. . .​Eat the Beetles! is an essential part of a growing buzz​.” — Toronto Star

“When it comes to the future of insects as food for humans and livestock, Waltner-Toews walks the line between skepticism and optimism in an intelligent, witty, and provocative analysis that should be a model for any clear-headed discussion of non-traditional solutions to the world’s problems.” — Jeff Lockwood, author of The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe and Love Insects and Poisoned Justice

"While Eat the Beetles! covers serious topics, including the world's food scarcity issues, it's also entertaining, with amusing stories and thoughtful reflection." — University of Guelph News

“As a veterinary epidemiologist, Waltner-Toews focuses much of his attention on explaining evolution and diversity within the insect world, and the science behind the ecological relationship between insects and humans. He also raises compelling questions.” — The Globe And Mail

“Readers who love creepy-crawlies will love unwrapping...Eat the Beetles! by David Waltner-Toews, a book about our relation with insects and what really bugs us.” – Times Record

Eat the Beetles provides a sturdy literary exoskeleton to the field of human insectivory. An in-depth look at the science behind the movement, it entertains as it enlightens.” — Daniella Martin, author of Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet

“This will inform and fascinate readers of food history, gastronomy, epidemiology, and ecology, as we begin to understand more about the lives of insects and the important roles they play in our society.” — Booklist

“David Waltner-Toews seeks to overcome our cultural aversion to entomophagy — eating insects — and offers a compelling argument for why this practice could ensure a sustainable and secure food supply.” — Food in Canada Magazine

“Full of humour and science, this edible insect book is definitely a must read!” — EntoMove Project

Eat the Beetles! is an excellent read for those interested in multiple perspectives on the issue of entomophagy, digging deep into science and math with flair and irreverence. From a posh Paris restaurant with insects on the menu to local joins in the Australian outback or rural China, Waltner-Toews truly immerses himself in the subject matter, making his book far more personal than a simple review of the evidence.” — Scene Magazine