What's on your menu this Thanksgiving or holiday season? Turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce will be on most tables in Reston, McLean and Bethesda, people have been eating bugs and insects for thousands of years. In fact, entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is part of many diets in Asia, Africa and Central and South America.

So if you're looking for a healthy alternative this holiday season, consider adding insects to the menu. In many ways, insects are the perfect source of food. They are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, calories and fat, and plentiful. Insects are also excellent sources of calcium and iron.

More than 1,400 different species of insects are known to be edible. Among these edible insects are many that are common in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. These include ants, crickets, grasshoppers and some spiders. Other such as silkworms and scorpions are found across the United States.
While insects maybe strange and unfamiliar to the American diet, consider that we eat many other arthropods – animals with external skeletons and jointed appendages – such as lobsters and craps. So keep an open mind to trying some Cricket Pad Thai with chocolate-covered ants for dessert this season.