I’m a psychologist who studies why we eat what we eat, and why we find certain foods disgusting, like edible insects (even though they’re eaten by over 2 billion people around the world). AMA!
Hi! I’m Rachel Herz, PhD, and I teach psychology at Brown University and Boston College. I recently appeared on the AJ+ show “In Real Life” to talk about how we can get over our psychological disgust of eating bugs - which you can watch here.
A lot of my research focuses on why we find certain foods - and smells - disgusting, and I’ve authored a number of books and articles about the subject like "Why You Eat What You Eat" and "That's Disgusting."
In many parts of the world, for example, eating insects is a (delicious) no-brainer. Over two billion people eat insects and the UN says they’re a sustainable source of protein we’ll need to consider incorporating into our diets as the world’s population balloons to over 9 billion by 2050.
But we in the West often see bugs as vermin and pests, and are grossed out by even touching them sometimes. How can the same exact thing - insects, in this case - be perceived in such radically different ways across the world? Well, a lot of it comes down to psychology (and even evolutionary biology).
Yara Elmjouie, the host of “In Real Life” who tried a lot of bugs is here too to answer your questions. Ask us anything!
Update: I have to run now, but thank you all for such interesting, food-for-thought questions! (I might come back in a couple hours to answer a few more.) Be sure to check out the In Real Life episode if you want to learn more about how to overcome your psychological disgust of eating insects (and learn what all the different bugs taste like). And if you’re curious about why we eat what we eat or why we find certain foods and smells disgusting, be sure to check out my books!
The key to a happy and healthy relationship with food is this: knowing about all the sensory, psychological and physiological factors that go into why you eat what you eat. That knowledge will give YOU control over your relationship with food, rather than feeling that food controls you. Thanks everyone!