When you think of insects, the first word that comes to mind probably won’t be “edible”. How can maggots or locusts be made into a gourmet dish?
Surprisingly, what you may consider a gross pest may sound like a great meal to another.
In Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, bugs such as grasshoppers, Tacoma worms, and mealworms are a common delicacy.
The idea of swapping pork, chicken, or beef for bugs might sound icky, but eating these critters can be beneficial to both yourself and the environment. Let's find out more!
The Benefits of Eating Insects
Many of the insects that are suitable for human consumption are rich in proteins and vitamins. In fact, each species is unique with regard to its nutrition and characteristics (some have nutty flavors, while others might be cheesy!)
Different bugs can also be eaten in different ways: raw, roasted over an open fire, freeze-dried, cooked, or made into a fine powder. In fact, insects can be incorporated into numerous foods, and we likely won’t even notice the difference.
The biggest advantage is the cost of raising insects which is very small. Compared to cows, insects produce eight times less carbon emissions and need six times less water to maintain.
To add to that, insects can be fed with waste products like fruit pulp, overripe vegetables, and grains as byproducts from alcohol brewing. Insect waste can also be repurposed into soil fertilizer. And unlike livestock farms which take up about 80% of all agricultural land, insect farms are relatively compact and can save precious space for other uses.
All this makes insect farms even more profitable, with little wastage of money and resources.
Future of Food?
As our world’s population edges towards 9 billion by 2050, livestock farming will not be sufficient to meet the growing food needs.
Some companies have already begun experimenting with insects in their food products. Mealworm burger patties, protein powder, gummy sweets, and a canned tuna substitute made from fruit fly larvae are just a few of the new food innovations. And last month, the European Union (EU) approved insects for human consumption!
So how about it? Will you consider eating these foods made from bugs?
Sources: BBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, CNN