Insects hold a great benefit to humans, not only from the perspective of global food crisis, but since they are a great source of high quality protein.
As the human count raises, there are already problems of access to good quality nutrients, never mind protein. By 2050, the United Nations expects that the demand for food will have increased to a point where the demand will not be able to match it. More so, with factors like climate change, agricultural lands that are producing less, over fishing, and pollution, might speed up the decline even more.
The thing is something has to change. Maybe we need to change our mind-sets, and look towards the East, to places like Cambodia were eating insects is seen as normal and a great source of protein. In fact, there are more than 1900 species of edible insects. It is also not a strange idea of eating insects, as around two billion people worldwide already eat these creators. With the most consumed insects being beetles, followed by ants, bees and wasps, crickets, locusts and cockroaches.
The problem is that most Westerners will turn up their noses to the idea of eating these six-legged insects. But if we want to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, as well as reducing child mortality rates, then we need to look at alternative sources of food.
It was in fact the United Nations that mentioned that insects should be an alternative source of food, back in 2004. Nevertheless, what lacked was governmental willingness to carry out the idea that eating insects could be good for people.
Nonetheless, insects are good source of nutrients. These nutrients include all eight essential amino acids, riboglavin, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and other minerals our bodies need. Besides, they contain a large amount of vitamins such as thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6) and cobalamin (vitamin B12). All of these vitamins and minerals are essential for our progress and more generally our health.
Most of all, insects are a very good source of protein, more so, it is equal to that of beef or chicken. For instance, a cricket contains around 21 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, beef contains 26 grams per 100 grams.
Added to that, insects only contain five percent fat, which makes them ideal for people that want to watch their weight.
Another reason why eating insects are good for us is that the environmental impact of farming and eating insects are much less than farming with cattle. Thus, the ecological footprint is much smaller than livestock. This means that we can preserve the environment better for generations to come. For instance, crickets require 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and eating chickens to produce the same amount of protein. More so, 1 hectare of land can produce at least 150 tons of insect protein per year. And finally, insects give off lower levels of greenhouse gases than cows.
In addition, insects can be raised without harmful chemicals or GSM feeds. This means that they will be cleaner to consume than what beef or lamb is at the moment. This also means that more people will have access to organic grown protein sources, rather than a few of the wealthier people.
But if the actual idea of biting into a cricket disgust you, then there are some ways around it. One example to eat those insects without the actual thought that you are, is by making use of cricket flour instead of wheat flour.
Just one thing, if you are allergic to shellfish then you should rather not eat insects. This is since insects are arthropods.
The bottom line
Eating insects might not be everyone’s idea of a tasty meal. But in the East it is seen as normal. In the West, we still need to come around to the idea. However, if we want a sustainable source of protein, that is affordable and accessible, then we need to look at alternative sources of protein – insects just happens to be one of these.
By eating insects, we not only feed ourselves, but the impact we will be making on the planet will be much less than what we are doing with cattle farming.
Many it is time we need to rethink insects as a food source.