Five Facts you Didn’t Know about Insects as Food

Guest writer Penny Atkinson shares some little-known facts about insects as food, and the difference they could make to global food shortage

eating insects

Watching celebrities wolf down bowlfuls of beetles and grubs in the Australian jungle might be the closest you come to eating creepy crawlies, but how much do you really know about the nutritional value of insect species? To bust myths on moths and dish the dirt on dung beetles, here are five fantastic snippets of information about eating six-legged creepy crawlies and their friends.

Meat in your diet can be replaced with insects

As insects are often very high in protein, fat and iron, they could quite easily replace meat in a carnivore’s diet and still supply them with the minerals and nutrients that they obtained from eating other things such as chicken or beef. They are thought to be a particularly beneficial food supplement for undernourished children.

cricket salad Five Facts you Didnt Know about Insects as FoodImage sourced: Istolethetv

It’s not as odd as you think

According to entomologist Stuart Hine from the Natural History Museum in London, 70% of the world’s population already incorporate insects into their diet. The map below shows the number of edible insect species in various countries around the world.

edible insects1 300x199 Five Facts you Didnt Know about Insects as FoodImage sourced: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The UN wants us to eat more insects

Bob Geldof, Band Aid and Comic Relief have all done their part in raising awareness for world hunger, but the UN have suggested that a solution to the highly publicised problem could be eating insects.

A new report by the UN claims that there are a range of edible insects that are under-utilised due to the squeamish barrier seen in Western countries. However as insects reproduce quickly with a high feed conversion rate and low carbon footprint, they could be an ideal solution to a global food crisis and should therefore be incorporated as a diet supplement in the near future.

Bugs are better for you than beef

When asked what they would miss most about a meat-free diet many people say bacon or beef steaks. Despite the appeal of a medium-rare rib-eye, insects may actually be more beneficial to your health than beef. When compared to minced beef, caterpillars contain 10 times the amount of iron than minced beef per 100g. Higher levels of iron can also be found in grasshoppers and dung beetles. Not appetising perhaps, but nutritional nonetheless.

You’ve already eaten insects

Insects and insect-derived substances regularly find their way into popular foods, so the likelihood is that you have already chowed down on a host of creepy crawlies. It is estimated that humans eat approximately 1,417 species of insects, and the two most common insects in our everyday food are cochineal beetles and shellac bugs. The red colouring from cochineal beetles can be found in coffee, wine and fruit juice whereas the glossy coating on sweets and even the skin on some fruit is derived from shellac bugs.

By Penny Atkinson

Edited by Helen Kinsella

Image sourced: Lon&Queta

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