Bug’s Life – People Eating Insects
People eating insects can be a solution to a global hunger problem. With an ever growing need to feed a growing population there is huge call for alternative means of eating and nutrition. Insects are one of these alternatives. It is such an abundant food source that it seems outrageous to not take advantage.
People eating insects as a food source is known as Entomophagy. For a lot of people in the world, eating insects is completely normal. It is even considered a delicacy in certain part of the world. You can go into the supermarket in Asia and buy a bag of frozen crickets from the freezer section. Despite this, insects as a food source is rare in Britain. Generally Western society tends to think of insects as dirty. However, some nutritionists believe that people eating insects could become the norm in Britain in the not to distant future. It takes no expert to understand that getting over the initial disgust factor of people eating insects will take some time.
Much like the way sushi wouldn’t have been so acceptable a few decades ago, insects face an uphill struggle to win the acceptance of European consumers.
People eating insects as part of their diet has been around for hundreds of years. Because people want to copy the attitudes of developed Western nations they are doing it less and less. It may be up to Western civilization to pave the way and act as a role model in encouraging the rest of the world to eat insects more regularly.
Where Can I Eat Insects?
Catering for the more adventurous taste buds, there are currently only a handful of places in Britain that you can have a sit-down insect meal. With all of the garnishes, seasoning and flavourings, bugs can be a gourmet meal. Restaurants serving bugs in Britain may be seen as a taboo at the moment. But these eateries may become more frequent in the future. Archipelago Restaurant in London is one such restaurant.
There is now more call than ever for more people eating insects. With the potential of meat prices rising with a growing global population, insects are fast becoming a serious option. This has been debated, and promoted by the UN as a potential way out of a global food crisis. With an estimated 2.5 billion people already tucking in to insects as part of their daily diet there is no reason that this cannot become an accepted widespread way of life.
There are multiple benefits of people eating insects. They can be seen in farming methods and nutritional values.
-Farming and harvesting insects takes very little water and transport fuel compared to livestock, grains and even vegetables.
-They can be farmed on a large scale without damaging the environment.
-Rearing insects uses less space whilst generating less pollution than livestock.
-Insects are abundant and environmentally sustainable.
In order to farm enough livestock to meet the needs of a hungry world, the world will have to massively increase the amount of cereals it grows to feed the livestock. This will inevitably have a detrimental effect on the poorer countries in the world who are struggling to feed their human population
-100 grams of crickets contains 121 calories
-100 grams of dried caterpillar contain around 50 grams of protein
There are forty tonnes of insects to every human. These vast quantities could help to fight world hunger. Insects are a healthy, nutritious and tasty alternative. Many contain as much, or more, protein as meat or fish. Some insects, especially in the larval stage, are rich in fat and contain significant percentages of amino acids and essential vitamins and minerals.
Scientists at the Netherlands’ WageningenUniversity recently published a study which found that 10kg of feed produces 9kg of locusts compared to just 1kg of beef, 3kg of pork and 5kg of chicken. Many insects, meanwhile, have similar protein levels to red meat but contain more vitamins and less fat.
For example, hamburgers are roughly 18 percent protein and 18 percent fat. Cooked grasshopper, meanwhile, contains up to 60 percent protein with just 6 percent fat. Like fish, insect fatty acids are unsaturated which make them healthier. Even as a snack, insect consumption is a lot healthier, than say, a packet of crisps or chocolate bar. There are around 2000 variations of insect that are safe for human consumption. Surely there is a taste to suit everyone’s palette.
People Eating Insects Now
Particularly in places where indigenous communities are strongest, bugs play a large role in Latin American cooking. Brazilians are less into their insects, but in Peru, Bolivia and Mexico, where indigenous cuisine was taken up by colonists, termites, grasshoppers, crickets and butterfly larvae are frequently used in cooking.
Caterpillars and grubs are a vital source of protein for millions of Africans. For every 100 grams of dried caterpillars, there are about 53 grams of protein, about 15 per cent of fat and about 17 per cent of carbohydrates. The insects are also believed to have a higher proportion of protein and fat than beef and fish.
South-east Asian nations such as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia eat more insects per head of population than any other country. Chinese gastronomes also ascribe all sorts of health properties to various insects. Baked tarantula, cooked in a clay pot to remove its hair, is a popular Cambodian treat. Islam and Judaism both forbid insect consumption other than locusts. Thailand is possibly the only country in the world to see an increase in eating insects over the past 20 years.
Making a Change
As long as people understand what they are buying then the benefits can be huge. Insect protein could be added to supplements and processed food.
To encourage more widespread use of people eating insects in their diet we must encourage the younger generation. It is easier to entice youngsters to eat insects because they see it as a bit of an adventure. By proving at an early age the taste is good and the health and economical benefits are there, more and more people will grow up without the disgust factor.
If you are thinking of eating insects there are a few things to remember. Preparation is key.
-Feed them on fresh grain for a couple of days before eating.
-Cook to improve the taste and ensure they are safe from parasites. Even though a lot of insects can be eaten raw.
-Wash with water.
-Put in freezer for around 15 minutes to kill them.
-Cut the heads from worms.
-Crickets can have their legs and wings removed.
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