With the world population set to reach an estimated 9.8 billion people by 2050, the food industry has had to take a closer look at alternative options for new food sources to satisfy the ever-growing global demand. With insects requiring far less water and land than many of our other options – and apparently also faring better when it comes to conversion efficiency and the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGEs) when compared to more conventional sources of animal protein – making them part of our regular consumption patterns could have a very positive effect on environmental conservation efforts. While reasonable and sustainable procurement methods would have to be developed (with the impact of controlled breeding or wild harvesting taken into consideration), with over-exploitation methods in place, they could provide a great solution.
They're a rich protein source!
Don’t let the typically tiny size of most insects fool you: Those little legs and minute, often shell-covered forms belie a seriously impressive amount of protein. One typical serving of crickets (100g), for instance, contains 13g, which is the same amount you’d find in two large eggs, another great protein source. Crickets are also estimated to contain two to three times more protein than beef. Bonus: Bugs are also gluten-free.
They're surprisingly palatable!
The thought of eating bugs admittedly does gross a lot of people out, but you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that they’re tastier than you think. They don’t always have to be presented with an ick factor, either: Unlike the “whole bug skewered on a stick” snacks many of us are used to seeing, the modern way of eating insects is pretty civilized. It makes sense: We wouldn’t eat many of our other foods in their as-harvested, unfettered form, so why would we consume insects in a raw and wriggling state? Cricket flour boasts a nutty, roasted flavour that lends itself well to cookies, cakes and breads, while mealworm powder can be tossed into healthy shakes much like other protein powders. A deep-fried tarantula might be a bit much for some to stomach, but done tempura-style, fried insects are given a gourmet upgrade. From ant eggs, ants and worms to grasshoppers and more, bugs are being stuffed into spring rolls, used as crispy croutons, tossed into salads, ground into burgers, used as crunchy “bacon bits”, incorporated into pasta and arancini, soups, cocktails, tortillas and tacos, fritters, pies, sauces and plenty more. Considering the fact that they’re versatile, rather healthy, and a decent food source environmentally-speaking, the only question left is: Would you eat them?