‘Crunch’ Are Bugs Really The Food Of The Future?
Recently there has been a lot of press about a report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The report focuses on insects as an untapped food source with broad uses. And why not? Insects have composed the diet of less finicky cultures for thousands of years. Could there really be a benefit to dining on bugs? Well, Lets take a look.
They can improve your health
In research done on the diets of children in certain African villages ( whose diet frequently consisted of termites ) found that the microorganisms in their stomachs, also known as ‘gut flora’ was more capable of digesting plant fibers. They were also more impervious to stomach ailments such as diarrhea and Crohn’s disease. Our diets consist of overly processed foods. Many of these processes are beneficial and prevent a variety of food-borne illness. But there is a trade off. By diminishing our exposure to these microbes, we open the doors to a wide variety of auto-immune disorders, allergies and other ailments.
Most edible insects have a protein content that rivals lean red meats and fish, and they also contain many nutrients such as copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber. In short, their nutritional content is on par with most other fresh foods.
Economic to raise
The cost of raising beef is consistently rising. Feed costs are increasing, more antibiotics are (supposedly) required to keep them healthy, and the fuel to transport them is expensive. Not to mention processing them. Insects are far more effective at converting their feed to body weight. While cows take 8 lbs. of feed to produce 1 lbs. of meat, some insects can produce the same amount of meat on around 2 lbs. of feed. The feed that insects consume is also much healthier than what is currently fed to livestock, usually consisting of fresh grasses and greens, most of which can easily be raised in your backyard. Being very light to transport and even easier to house are just two more reasons some might consider insect farming.
In the Western world, there are many reasons for not partaking in this particular feast. One might be that we simply don’t have to. Even for the poorest family, a variety of proteins are still available. Another reason might have to do with our cultural differences. With entertainment like Fear Factor and other TV shows, we are repeatedly shown images of disgusted faces as people attempt even the smallest bite of a creepy crawly. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. When bugs are eaten, it isn’t usually whole or alive. You can easily make dried grasshoppers or similar insects into a fine meal that can be used like flour or mixed in with other dishes, completely unnoticeable to even the most discerning palates.
It’s true that our current methods of producing beef aren’t the most efficient, but is it really the time to consider eating our way down the food chain? Well, it certainly brings a lot of possibilities to mind. If we intend to continue down the path of sustainability, it must be our goal to find the most efficient and permanent solutions to the questions posed by our changing environment. Let’s not assume that means we have to sacrifice flavors though! Check over in our Organic Kitchen section for some insect recipes that are (for some) guaranteed to please. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you might be surprised at what your future meals might contain.
Jonathan Parker is an EMT-Paramedic and Preparedness Instructor with a love for emergency medicine, self-sufficiency and homesteading. His goal is to empower people towards a natural and sustainable lifestyle.