Is Insect Protein the Next Big Thing? Have You Got the Stomach For It?
Humans in various parts of the world have been eating bugs for centuries. The correct term is entomophagy. Many of us Westerners are probably grossed out by the idea, but really is eating the animals we do any less gross?
The earth is expected to have 9 billion people on it by 2050 and many experts seem to think that we will not be able to get by from typical animal protein alone. Insects offer a more sustainable future, but will they ever actually take off?
Misconception After Misconception
Many of us westerners think that people eating insects are strange or desperate in some way. Seen from another perspective, we are the strange ones. Many countries in Asia will eat insects and it is not out of desperation. In fact in some cultures various insects are highly prized delicacies and super popular snacks.
Are Insects Nutritious?
Insects are being touted as a viable way of meeting nutritional needs for humans, so let’s take a look at some numbers and see how good some of them are for you…
Eating Grasshoppers and Crickets
A 3.5 ounce serving of raw grasshopper contains between 14 and 28 grams of protein, which is a relatively large amount for such a small serving. In real terms this equates to 30-60% of the 46 grams of protein women should be getting daily and 25-50% of the 56 grams required for men.
And protein is not the only benefit. Grasshoppers and Crickets are a good source of unsaturated fats, which help reduce the risk of heart disease and these insects contain some amount of iron too, the exact amount depends on the size of the bug!
Next up is ants. A small 3.5 ounce serving of Red ants will provide you with roughly 14 grams of protein as well as just under 6mg or iron, which equates to one third of the recommended amount for ladies and a staggering 71% of the amount required for you gents.
Check out the video below to watch Gordon Ramsay sample ants!
Beetles offer one of the richest sources of protein. The exact amount depends on the beetle. A 3.5 ounce serving of Giant Water Beetle will provide you with 20 grams of protein. The same serving of Paleworm Beetle can contain up to 36 grams of protein.
Like the majority of other insects Beetles are a good source of Calcium, Iron and Zinc too. These numbers are absolutely staggering. Can we really ignore such a plentiful supply of nutrition?
Still Grossed Out?
Does the thought of eating insects still make your stomach turn? Honestly, I am not sure if I blame you. I would like to think I would try an insect, but at the same time I am somewhat doubtful whether I could go through with it.
However, there is a kind of middle ground. There is now a huge market for supplements with insect protein as well as things such as cricket flour.
This means you can get all the benefits without actually seeing a set of eyes or something floating in your noodles. Sounds better, right?
If you want to see what’s available or maybe even take the plunge and try some then consider checking out some fairly new startups:
Closer to home, there are plenty of options on amazon.co.uk that can be delivered to your door in the next day or two…
The video below, on the Entomo farms channel, shows cricket flour being produced:
Alternatives to Insect Protein
Can’t imagine ever trying insects or insect based food? Maybe you are a vegetarian and find eating insects as bad as eating animals. For you getting protein can be hard work. Consider some of the below choices to get the protein your body needs:
- Soy Milk
Eating Insects and the Environment: Food for Thought
If the only reason you’re not eating insects is because you are grossed out then I would urge you to reconsider. As a group we humans are already pushing everything to the limit. We are huge in population and everything has a carbon footprint. Livestock uses so much energy and these animals go through so much water that it is just not sustainable at the rate we are growing.
Insects are a viable alternative that really should not be overlooked in my opinion. And, like I said at the beginning, is it really much different than eating animals? I would say no… Majority of us would not eat a dog because we associate them as pets, same goes for cats and other animals. Yet cows, chickens and sheep are fine… for many people insects and food will never fit. I suspect we may well see them differently in a few decades from now.
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