By Mike Pomranz
Updated August 20, 2015
Credit: © Bon Appetit / Alamy

Would you be willing to swap your olive oil for cricket oil? No? Well, you better get with the times, because the cricket is just one of many bugs from which scientists have discovered oil can be extracted, and other insects could prove capable of producing edible oils in the future.

Dr. Daylan Tzompa-Sosa of the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands told Food Navigator USA how she fell into the world of bug oil while working on far trendier insect protein projects. After isolating protein from the bugs, her colleagues were left with oils as one of the byproducts, which these scientists were simply throwing away. Tzompa-Sosa saw this as a waste. “There are some companies in the Netherlands that are starting to be serious about the extraction of proteins [from insects], so if this happens then the oil will be a byproduct and then, well, we better use it,” she said.

She now runs her own project where she’s looked into oils from insects like flour maggots, beetle larvae, crickets and cockroaches. Not surprisingly, she described cockroach oil as “especially disgusting,” smelling like vomit. She admits, “This oil would never be intended for human consumption.” Other bug oils, however, like grasshopper and the soldier fly were described as having an aroma that is fruity and pleasant.

Insect oils appear to occupy an interesting space among other edible oils, landing somewhere between vegetable oil and animal fat. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids. As researchers look for more environmentally friendly foodstuffs, these oils might make for a sensible choice. No one said the future wouldn’t be gross.