It is widely known that by 2050 our already huge population of 7 billion will swell to over 9 billion, that’s 2 billion more mouths to feed and apparently twice the amount of food we have available today. Therefore it is clear we need to be smart about how we produce sustainable food sources for the future. One favoured way is to rear bugs for human consumption; the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation recently produced a 185 page document about the endless possibilities of insects as part of the human diet.
Having said this many people are unconvinced. In our western societies we wince at the idea of munching on cooked cockroaches or grilled grass hoppers. But why? Over 2 billion people regularly indulge in 1,400 species of insects. They are an excellent source of protein, unsaturated fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals. The most popular insects to tuck into are ants, beetles, caterpillars, cicadas, crickets and grass hoppers. Even bees, wasps and dragonflies are enjoyed.
So why will we be eating insects in the future?
1-They are environmentally friendly
Insects omit far less CO2 and greenhouse gases than regular farm animals and are far less likely to spread diseases.
2-They bring socio-economic benefits
Rearing and harvesting insects is cheaper because little/no machinery is required, so rich and poor communities can benefit equally.
3-They are sustainable
It is believed that there are currently 40 tons of insects for every person on the planet, so tuck in! 1lb of crickets need 1000 times less water than 1lb of beef. The UN reported that “a cow takes 8kg of feed to produce 1kg of beef, but only 40% can be eaten. Crickets require just 1.7kg of feed to produce 1kg of meat and 80% is edible.”
4-They are highly nutritious
100grams of caterpillars contains more protein than 100grams of sirloin steak; Caterpillars have 55grams of protein compared to the 30.5grams found in steak. Additionally the texture and flavour of insects is far more enjoyable than you might imagine. Many arthropods have a nutty taste and red ants are said to have a “lemony sourness”.
5-Eating insects is more ethical
People are less fond and attached to insects, so the idea of eating them should be more appealing than eating a little lamb. (Unless you’re a particularly passionate entomologist, in which case bad news for your work colleagues).