The consumption of insects, (entomophagy) might be new to you, however, it is a big part of the diet in Asia, Africa, South, and Central America.
The first time I heard about edible bugs, I thought "No way!". But at the same time, I was really curious. After all, I tried it and it turns out that it doesn't taste bad. But that's not all!
Edible insects are an alternative source of protein for humans, they are sustainable, plus, they have plenty of other amazing benefits.
Let's dive into WHY you should stop refusing, and consider adding some tasty bugs in your meals!
1. They are delicious
YES! Believe it or not, bugs taste GOOD. If prepared nicely, you won't even know that you are eating insects. As a matter of fact, they provide different textures and flavors.
- crickets or cricket flour may remind you of nuts because of their nutty flavor
- red ants are creamy and they have ''lemony sourness''
- beetles are a great popcorn alternative
- wasps have a pine-nutty flavor
- scorpions are compared to a soft-shell crab or fishy beef jerky flavor
- giant water bug is having a salted-banana or melony flavor, etc.
For more delicious and interesting tastes, find the 23 unforgettable insect flavors here!
2. You are already doing it
Sorry to break it to you, but the truth is that you already eat bugs! Of course, unconsciously. One research estimated that we all are eating more than a pound (453g) of insects every year. You may wonder how?
Insects parts are hidden in your (possibly) favorite foods!
Insect fragments are commonly found in chocolate, cinnamon, dates, coffee beans, potato chips, peanut butter, broccoli, canned tomatoes, fig paste, canned fruit juices, etc.
Besides, a lot of insect pieces are hidden in fresh plant-based veggies and fruits. So, especially if you are on the vegetarian/vegan side, you are probably eating plenty of bugs.
3. Packed with protein
Proteins are organic compounds consisting of amino acids.
They are important elements of food nutrition.
Did you know that crickets have up to 69% protein? For instance, a single portion (3.5 ounces) of grasshopper has between 14 and 28 grams of protein. From just one small serving, this is between 25-60% of your suggested daily allowance!
What is more, they are the complete source of protein containing all essential amino acids!
Additionally, they are also high in other essential vitamins and minerals, such as Potassium, Iron, Vitamin B12!
But we will focus more on the other good nutrients a bit later!
4. Bugs are sustainable
Let's face it, the livestock farming is disturbingly unsustainable. Animals require a lot of energy, land, food, water, etc.
Some of the benefits of farming insects are that it is very easy to do on a large scale, and the best part - it can be done without destroying ecosystems.
Insect farming produces around a hundred times fewer greenhouse gases than beef cattle or pigs. This can reduce global warming, while saving a lot of land and water too!
Another example is that mealworms can survive on waste wheat chaff rather than guzzling grain like other meat sources.
Lastly, here’s something really interesting:
Farming insects can lead to more forestation.
Most edible insects have been collected from natural habitats. What this means is that there is a strong connection between edible insects and sustainable forest management.
5. They're HEALTHY
Bugs are not only protein rich! Many edible insects provide:
- satisfactory amounts of energy and protein
- meet amino acid requirements for humans
- they are high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids
- rich in micronutrients such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin and, in some cases, folic acid.
Beyond that, it is a perfect way to get the essential vitamin B12! Doesn't matter if you are on a vegan diet or not, even if you are eating meat, it is possible to be deficient on this vitamin.
Some of the symptoms of being B12 deficient could be:
- pale skin
- changes in mobility
- mood changes
The quick solution?
Just a single spoon of it will provide enough B12 for the whole day!
6. A great healthy alternative to... chips!
Have you ever wished for a healthier, protein-packed, guilt-free alternative to chips?
Well, you just found it! For instance, roasted mealworms are the perfect snack to satisfy your not so healthy cravings.
They are crunchy, filled up with flavor and spices, packed with protein and vitamins, and the best part - it is a guilt-free, healthy snack
Curious to try?
It may become your all-time-favorite snack.
7. It's foolish to judge food by its looks
Let's be honest, there are a lot of foods that look or smell weird, but you still eat!
Let me give you a funny example with my grand-grandmother. She is one of those people that judge the food just by the way it looks.
She tried bananas for the first time at the age of 70! (I'm not even kidding)
When I asked ''But why?", she told me that for her, it looked '' Weird and mushy."
Now, she is 85 and she loves eating bananas! :D
My point is... don't judge the food by its look!
There are numerous foods that look weird, but they are still eaten and loved by a lot of people!
- Caviar - the EGGS of the fish... that sounds, looks and smells weird
- Cat dung coffee beans - cats are digesting it and then... pooping the coffee beans. They are even prized by gourmets around the world
- Seafood in general
- Truffles - all-black pungent mushroom
- Durian - sweet, delicious and forbidden in a lot of countries in Southeast Asia
All in all, a lot of people enjoy all the foods above, even though they do look kinda odd for some. Furthermore, don't be like my grand grandmother!
Before denying to try insects, give it a try. Perhaps, it could be your thing!
8. Insects could be the solution to world hunger
1812 we were 1 billion.
1912 we became 1.5 billion.
2012, we rapidly increased the earth population to 7 BILLION.
The worst part is that around 1 billion people are starving.
With the current growing demand for livestock products, it is expected to double until 2050 (from 229 million tonnes to 465 million tonnes).
If we want to fight world hunger, we need to rethink what we eat and how we produce our food.
The positive news is that there is a way to fix this issue!
Insects are a great, inexpensive, green source that has the potential to spread and feed the planet.
Nobody said it will be easy, but it can work if we create a market and fund it.
Generally speaking, there are approximately 40 tons of insects for every human! That’s more than enough.
Insect chitin is very beneficial for you because it’s a prebiotic.
Chitin is found mainly in insects, snails, shrimps and even in the cell walls of mushrooms and other fungi.
It is a naturally occurring fiber similar to cellulose, and surprisingly, it has some very powerful health benefits.
The main ones are:
1. It can boost the healthy bacteria in your gut
A study showed that consumption of crickets can actually contribute to a healthier digestive system
2. It can reduce inflammation
More studies showed that chitin microparticles can prevent:
1) the development of inflammation
2) it can treat inflammatory bowel disease
3) protects the guts from physical and chemical damage, infection, dehydration, and heat loss
3. It can moisturize and protect your skin from drying
Chitin has a film-forming ability, that's why it is used widely in skin and hair care products since it can moisturize and protect your skin from drying
4. It could be good for weight loss and preventing constipation
Chitin is a great source of insoluble dietary fiber, which can aid to feel full for longer, after meals
Read more about all of the researches and the benefits of chitin here!
10. You don't have to eat them whole
Meat eaters rarely associate steaks with cows or sausages with pigs, since they come in a different form and shape.
If you are really disgusted by the thought of eating bugs, don't worry, there are alternative ways of consuming them.
For example, you can start using Cricket flour, or even Buffalo worm flour. In that way, you can overcome the fact that you are eating bugs since it will be in powdered form and it will look like any other flour.
Plus, you will be able to see how does it taste, which by the way is super delicious! For example, the buffalo worm flour has a mild nutty flavor, similar to cashew nuts!
You can try to make pizza crust with the flour or some delicious cake!
11. Insects require less land and water
We use around 70% of agricultural land and 30% of the total land on Earth to raise livestock.
Furthermore, agriculture consumes about 70% of freshwater worldwide.
Now, consider this -
1 liter for 1 kg
2 300 liters for 1kg of chicken
3 500 liters for 1 kg
22 000 liters for 1 kg
According to FAO, an estimation is that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with a complete lack of water.
From the other side, it is much easier to farm insects on a large scale without destroying the environment, since they require far less land and water than the traditional livestock.
Just try to imagine how much land and water we can save if we simply start eating less meat and more insects!
12. Insects can fight climate change
The livestock sector plays an important role in climate change. Meat and dairy corporations are responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Did you know that livestock farming is the second biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions? - that's more than all transport, combined!
On the other hand, mealworms are a more environmentally friendly source of animal protein than milk, chicken, pork, and beef.
In general, the production of greenhouse gases by most insects is much lower than that of conventional livestock.
Another key point is that crickets, for example, require 3 times LESS feed than pork or chicken, and up to 13 times less than cows!
Insect farming is a far more efficient and sustainable way to get our protein and vitamin needs!
As you can see, there are so many good reasons to try eating insects.
It is so much more sustainable, it is delicious, and it is getting more accessible than ever.
Startups and project are constantly popping out, exploring the potential of insects as alternative sources of protein.
Fortunately, edible insects are a growing niche and I bet you will start seeing them more and more! This is an incredibly good opportunity since it will become more accessible and easier to get.