Exactly How Nutritious Was Justin Timberlake's Bug Buffet?

A 'Man of the Woods' listening party in NYC featured gourmet grasshoppers and ants. How good for you are they, really?

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Jan 17 2018, 4:46pm

Justin Timberlake has taken some considerable flak for the apparent gusto with which he's (at least partially) pivoting to American roots music on his upcoming Man of the Woods album. That infamous promo trailer has been criticized as uncritical, cringeworthy peak whiteness by many, as though rugged survivalism was invented by white Americans and not... y'know, the entirety of human civilization. In any case, JT isn't necessarily easing up on the outdoors theme in his promotion, but he's taking it to bizarre new extremes. In an album listening party in New York City on Tuesday, the menu was insects. Literal bugs. Ants and grasshoppers. Glazed in chocolate, garlic, and rosé oil, but insects nonetheless.

The menu's weird, yeah, but firmly in line with the repertoire of famed Danish chef René Redzepi, whose swanky Copenhagen restaurant Noma supplied the cuisine for the event. He also takes entomophagy (the process of humans eating bugs) VERY seriously. Getting past the initial ick factor, bugs are eaten in lots of places across the world and are mainly just weird to westerners. I've never tried them myself, but I'm sure they're pretty good! Taste is one thing, though, and a healthy body is another, entirely. Just what was the nutritional value of this ultra-fine dining? Let's investigate.

According to this piece from Time, grasshoppers contain 20.6 grams of protein with only 6.1 grams of fat. It's almost as much as a serving of one chicken breast. Obviously the chocolate glazing would add some calories to that, but it seems pretty good for you. Ants, despite the size difference, are just as rich in protein as grasshoppers, with around 13 to 14 grams of protein per 3.5 ounce serving. They also contain iron, calcium and almost zero cholesterol or fat, similar to salads like kale.

So it turns out that an entomo-centric diet is actually great for you, meaning that if one decides to become an insectivore, they can rightfully brag to their avocado-spreading and/or juice-cleansing friends that they're getting a nicely-balanced meal. Justin Timberlake has won this time, it seems, but he's also the one who has to clean antennae out of his teeth so who really has the last laugh here?

Phil is on Twitter.