Maybe it's time to complete your morning breakfast by adding cricket powder to your smoothie. Westerners have a difficult time comprehending the idea of bugs as food, but it's apparent that entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) will become one of the new food trends for reasons ranging from nutrition to global warming.
Even though people in the US eat bugs all the time without even knowing it due to loopholes in FDA guidelines, in most modern Western societies, insects are thought of as vile pests, not food. But a buggy food trend has already commenced in other places around the world, and it is proving economical, nutritional, and good for the earth in addition to posing itself as a possible solution to the long-dominating issue in international politics of global hunger.
But are there any benefits to eating bugs? The fact that they are loaded with nutrition and are safer to eat than livestock is just the beginning. Read on to find out why you should start munching on insects today.
Although it can be difficult to generalize the exact nutritional benefits of insects versus more traditional sources of protein (e.g., beef, poultry, pork, fish) because of the sheer diversity of insect species, it can confidently be stated that most edible insects offer comparable if not more nutritional value than their standard opponents.
Most edible insects are rich in calcium, protein, iron, zinc, and fiber. Many insects, like Formicidae ants, can boost growth and strengthen humans' immune systems while simultaneously providing necessary proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Others, such as the May or June beetles, help prevent pulmonary issues and may even serve as a form of medicine to certain pulmonary conditions.
What's more, edible insects are likely to be a good source for necessary fatty acids. Specifically, linoleic and α-linolenic acids are common, both of which aid in the development of infants and children.
In an increasingly globalized society, humans are becoming more aware of the acute risk of global pandemic á la World War Z. What most people might not know, however, is that the consumption of livestock is one of the most widespread vectors of disease, as demonstrated by the rapid spread of such diseases as mad cow disease.
Because the demand for livestock is so high, harvesters often keep animals together in crowded and, sometimes, unsanitary conditions where diseases are able to mutate and spread. This not only causes unnecessary and painful deaths for animals but also puts the human population at risk, as humans and common livestock have a close-enough genetic makeup to make them susceptible to similar diseases.
However, insects are taxonomically more distant than common livestock and are therefore believed to pose a much lower risk of spreading diseases bred through the harvesting process.
Entomophagy's biggest hurdle is that many of us can't get over the idea of plucking a beetle from the brush and munching away. This is an unfair stereotype of insect consumption, of course - it's not like people bite into live cows or pigs.
In fact, there's a seemingly infinite number of ways to prepare the more than 1,900 edible species of insects. Crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts are particularly crunchy, similar to an average chip, and grasshoppers especially have a neutral flavor, making them ideal for picking up the flavors of whatever they're being cooked with.
Flies from watery areas can resemble duck or fish flavors, while stinkbugs are known to add a fresh flavor of apple to sauces (in addition to being a great source of iodine). And if a nutty taste and texture is needed in a salad, try sprinkling bee brood over it.
Whether roasting beetles over coals to imitate popcorn (with way more protein) or cooking Witchetty grub to make it crisp like roast chicken, dining on insects is guaranteed to be unique, tasty, nutritionally satisfying, and good for the environment.
Some experts believe insects are the key to ending world hunger.
Per the World Food Programme, some 795 million people worldwide lack enough food for a "healthy active life." Developing countries house the vast majority of the undernourished, with Asia having the most hungry people and Africa having the highest prevalence (that is, percentage of the population).
Because harvesting insects for consumption is nearly 10 times more efficient than livestock, joint international efforts stand a better chance of providing more people with highly nutritious sustenance by disseminating and teaching rural populations how to harvest local insects. Not only will this feed malnourished populations, but the industry of harvesting local insects will also provide useful employment for members of developing areas.