When Eating Insects is Beneficial



Eating insects may be seen by many as an unhealthy venture, but not all insects are bad. In fact, some insects have been found to be the veritable source of protein, and as livestock feed could help alleviate the looming crisis of nearly 1 billion people who regularly go hungry.

It has also been noted that eating insects are not only good for the health, it is also good for the planet. In 2014, Baum and Whiteman, a restaurant consultancy firm, predicted that insect protein powder would be among the hottest food and drink trends of 2015, along with oysters, unusual root vegetables, and whiskey.

Insects’ eating has been in practice for many years, but recently gained popularity in the Western countries. For example, crickets meals are been served in not less than 30 restaurants in North America since 2012. Few among them raise the insects; others either sell cricket meal which is milled to a fine powder that looks like nut flour or products made from it, including granola bars, cricket chocolates and cricket cookies. Among insect products are cricket-based bitters, which can help to overcome psychological problems.

North America’s cricket-food industry did not just start suddenly about shifting food tastes. Rather, its start can be traced to two catalysts. One was the 2013 Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, report that sparked the birth of Critter Bitters. The other was a 2010 TED talk by Marcel Dicke, a Dutch ecological entomologist. According to him, “a burgeoning population will not only add more mouths to feed, he points out, but will require more protein; as people grow richer, they want to eat more meat.” Then, there is the economic argument. “If you take 10 kilograms of feed, you can get one kilogram of beef,” Dicke says, “but you can get nine kilograms of locust meat. If you were an entrepreneur, what would you do?”

The Thais love fried locusts, South Africans munch on caterpillars, and palm weevil is another insect eaten in Africa, Asia and Americas. At least two billion people worldwide regularly eat insects, according to the FAO. Nutritionally, they are hard to beat: insects are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and ‘good’ fats. More than 2,000 species have reportedly been used as food­ and with a million insect species and counting, more are sure to be found.

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