Zimmern, host of the popular Travel Channel series "Bizarre Foods," travels the world tasting the local vittles in various countries. Some are quite foreign to American taste buds, and, at least in the case of insects, he thinks Yanks are missing out on some good eating.
For instance, one of Zimmern's favorite snacks is a handful of chapulines, a taste treat from the Mexican state of Oaxaca that combines dry-roasted grasshoppers with lime and chili. Another is an Ecuadoran dish where coconut grubs are marinated in orange juice before being grilled.
"I was on a trip once where someone made those for us, and I'll tell you, everyone there couldn't get enough," Zimmern said.
The idea of eating insects upsets many Americans stomachs, but they are commonly eaten in other parts of the world, such as Asia, Latin America and Africa. In fact, DailyMe.com reports that dishes like boiled bee larvae, green tree ants and yanagimushi worms are currently all the rage with Japanese gourmets.
It's a trend that Zimmern hopes will infest the West for a variety of reasons.
"Should we be eating insects instead of Doritos?" Zimmern asked rhetorically. "Yes, but it's a chicken-or-egg thing. The fact that we don't is illustrative of how far Americans are removed from our food sources. We've forgotten that our ancestors ate from necessity. As a result, we've become reliant on four or five food companies who only serve us center-of-the-animal foods.
"My grandparents used to go to the butcher shop and buy chicken heads and necks for soup. Now, you have to go to ethnic stores to get those, and the supermarkets only sell boneless breasts from the center of the animal."
Although Americans might thumb their noses at insects, there are many reasons why Zimmern thinks they should be a part of their diet.
"They are replenishable, and they are an inexhaustible supply of protein once people get over the psychological barrier," he said.
Zimmern is not alone at touting the potential bounty of goodness that comes from turning meal worms into a meal of worms.
Biologist David George Gordon, author of "The Eat a Bug Cookbook," says more people eat bugs than not.
"Everywhere but the European nations, the U.S. and Canada eat bugs," Gordon said. "We're the weirdos because we don't. Somewhere along the line we decided not, but they're no weirder than oysters."
They just might be healthier as well.
"Insects are high in protein," he said. "One cup of crickets contains only 250 calories and six grams of fat, plus the exoskeletons -- which is where the protein is -- have lots of fiber."
Each variety of insect has its own unique taste, but overall, Gordon said, they tend to have subtle flavors more akin to crabmeat than steak or pork.
"Really, it's like serving seafood," Gordon said. "And that goes with the wine served with it. Think a crisp chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. With grasshoppers, you can try something stronger like sangria."
Is your mouth watering? Well, assuming that it is, Gordon admitted that getting grubs for your grub in America isn't easy.
"They're relatively cheap to raise, but because insects are not being raised commercially except as pet food or fish bait, the only way you can get enough to eat is to wait for a swarm of locusts to come by or stake out a termite mound," he said.
But not everyone is ready to jump on the bug-eating bandwagon.
Brian Malarkey, who came in fourth on the third season of "Top Chef," isn't exactly champing at the bit to eat insects on his own time, much less add grasshoppers or grubs to his menus.
"I'm sure I've eaten some bugs on my motorcycle or in my sleep, but consciously not so much," he said in an e-mail interview. "[At my restaurants] we have great fish, meat, produce etc. ... Insects are more of a 'I have nothing else good' sort of thing. But if you cook it, I'll try it."
In addition, Dr. Naheed Ali, a medical doctor specializing in health and nutrition, says that while many people around the world eat insects, there are reasons why they shouldn't replace corn chips as snack foods.
"Insects aren't better than chips," he said by e-mail. "Most potato chips today go through intense manufacturing processes that make them as less contaminated as possible just before the bag is opened. For obvious concerns, chips don't spend an entire lifetime out in the wild like insects do. Some insects contain viruses, bacteria or poisonous toxins used for defense purposes."
Gordon acknowledged that diners shouldn't necessarily eat any bug they catch, but noted, "You wouldn't want people eating raw chicken either."
He continued, "I recommend cooking insects like you'd cook pork or chicken. However, the fact that many people consider insects as vermin -- even 'green people' -- shows a latent, blatant hatred for insects.
"For instance, people consider cockroaches to be dirty, but they're actually very tidy and are constantly grooming themselves."
This "insect-ism" doesn't sit well with English teacher David Gracer, another grub gourmand. He says if Americans were smarter, they'd start eating insects now and not later, when circumstances could make it necessary.
"We can't keep on doing what we want without paying the consequences," Gracer said. "What raising cows and pigs does to earth's environment is to the planet's health as a diet heavy on cake and ice cream is to the human body."
Ideally, Gracer would make his diet at least 75 percent insects. He said his favorite species is the stink bug, which despite its bad-smelling name has a pleasantly bitter and herby taste that he compares to cilantro and kale.
But despite Gracer's love of insects, he doesn't think they're going to become an American staple the way sushi did in the 1980s.
"Yeah, sushi did catch on, but I argue that it's only with 30 percent of the population," he said. "But while some people used to have a problem with raw fish, sushi had two things going for it: It was the national cuisine, and, raw as it was, it's still fish."
Gracer said that for bugs to become the next food group, there would have to be a situation where the foods that Americans currently eat become too expensive.
Right now, it's the other way around.
"A box of 1,000 live crickets -- the most widely available bug -- is surprisingly expensive considering how cheap they are to raise," Gracer said. "Part of that is because the U.S. cricket population is being infected with denso, a virus that kills them but is harmless to humans."
It remains to be seen whether insects are going to become a part of the American diet. Still, Zimmern holds out hope that, in the words of Sam Cooke, a change is going to come.
"I am optimistic," he said. "Thanks to TV and the Internet and, yes, shows like mine, people are broadening their scope. You have no idea how many people tell me, 'I went down to Mexico on a cruise ship and tried chapulines because of what you said, and they were really good.'"