There are forty tonnes of insects to every human alive on Earth right now. They are sustainable, come in a variety of flavours and are highly nutritious - but should we eat insects? Those tiny critters that walk and fly the Earth could solve many issues that an increasing population and a limited food supply are facing.
Insects offer a bountiful supply without the harmful excesses of farming, can be grown almost anywhere on the Earth, are rich in protein, fats and minerals and have been declared a solution to the global food problem.
But does the idea of eating insects turn your stomach? It shouldn’t do. Rather than being something to be reviled, bugs could provide a great solution to the problems facing feeding planet Earth in the 21st century.
Eating insects is not a new idea. Insects are part of the diets for around 2 billion people - and snacks and meals containing beetles, crickets, caterpillars and wasps are very popular in Asia and Africa, and have been so for thousands of years. Despite this, entomophagy (consuming insects) is regarded as a big no-no in the West - but could eating insects save the world?
Insects are high in protein - and lots of other good stuff
If you’re trying to eat healthier, insects are your new best friend. When it comes to protein, insects are almost on par with a steak with an average of 205g/kg protein compared to beef’s 256g/kg - some insects even weigh in at 80% protein. They are also high in fat, fibre, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and minerals, making them a great nutritional all-rounder.
They’re a sustainable food source
While experts are worried about the lack of resources and the effect of meat farming to feed a growing populace, insects are a brilliant solution to the ecological and logistical problems. Farming insects requires far less energy than cattle. Insects are cold-blooded, which is far more efficient than traditional livestock in converting feed into edible body mass. Crickets, for example, can provide twice as much meat for a quarter of the feed that cows consume.
This also means that less land and water is needed to farm insects - and therefore fewer pesticides. Insects reproduce quicker and have shorter life spans than cattle, which allow for a higher turnover. And there is also the option to feed insects to farm animals to replace fishmeal, which would go some way to replenishing decreasing fish stocks in the ocean.
There’s another massive benefit - insects can also feed off animal waste or food that humans cannot consume, so there is a huge reduction in waste.
They could boost economies in developing countries
Insect farming could create a huge amount of jobs and solid income for people in impoverished areas. The reduced costs of running an insect farm allow for farmers in developing countries to set up far easier. Thailand is one country that has seen a lot of success with this type of industry. There are also innovations being made that will benefit farmers starting up business, including one U.S. organisation who have built an easy-to-run, easy to transport insect farm which could offer huge livelihood opportunities for a large number of people around the world.
What do insects taste like?
Despite their negative perception in the West, there’s a good reason that insects are so widely eaten elsewhere in the world - they taste good! According to those in the know, there is a wide variety of tastes to be enjoyed. Termites have a minty flavour, stink bugs taste of apples and tree worms taste like pork rind.
One of the easiest ways of sampling this type of food is by trying insect flour. Cricket Protein Flour is really versatile - you can add it to protein shakes or sprinkle over cereal, or combine it to standard flour to use in baking. Cricket flour gives a nice nutty taste, making it great for savoury or sweet dishes.
Another protein kick is these buffalo worms which have a nutty taste and are lightly fried with ginger and garlic. You can eat them straight from the pack, or add them to rice or salads - even grind them up to add to a protein shake.
Other high protein insects include grasshoppers which contain more protein gram for gram than beef. These are a great carrier for flavour, so perfect for tempura batter with a punchy sauce, or glazed with honey and soya sauce and roasted.
Interested in finding out more about our high protein edible insect food? Check out our full range of edible insects to see all our products!