Is climate change a topic that bugs you? Global warming make your skin crawl? Then you’ll want to dig right into today’s guest post from Breanne of Protein Promo. She’s a cricket crunching writer, editor, peanut butter fanatic, and all round food lover who’s constantly on the lookout for new, sustainable food sources.
The idea of eating insects fills many in the developed world with revulsion. But research shows eating insects and other arthropods is not only good for your health but may be one of the most effective approaches to combat global warming and climate change.
How is that?
Before I explain, let me relate my own rather serendipitous introduction to the wonderful world of entomophagy.
An Unwitting Guinea Pig
Like many westerners, I grew up regarding insects as bothersome, disease-ridden pests whose place was nowhere near my dinner table. You can therefore imagine the culture shock I had when I was traipsing down a narrow street in one of Bangkok’s flea markets and an over-enthusiastic vendor proffered a bowl of crusty, glistening insects to taste. Common courtesy dictated that I couldn’t possibly refuse the offer so I nit-picked the most unintimidating grub and pretended to savor its aroma … but only as a ruse to close my eyes before I popped it into my mouth.
It was on the evening of the third night on our holiday in Thailand. Of course I had heard of the Thai love for insects before this particular incident. In fact, the previous day we had even taken photos of the mounds of insect snacks for sale, yet no one offered to be the first to try one. Unfortunately, now I had no option but to be my group’s unwitting guinea pig, in an experiment I had hoped never to take part in.
I expected the little grub to taste, well… “insecty.” But, to my surprise, it was not as crunchy as I had expected. It crumbled easily and the subtle seasoning was actually delightful. I was converted. My friends followed suit immediately. By the time we left the vendor, he was grinning from ear to ear as a substantial volume of his stock in trade had been depleted.
What Do Insects Taste Like?
I know you’ve heard statements of this nature before, but eating insects isn’t as bad as it sounds.
If there is one guarantee I can give you about insect and arthropod cuisine it has to be this: it is anything but boring. Even without seasoning, cooked insects have their own distinctive (and tasty) flavors. I find meal worms quite crunchy while crickets have a delightful nutty taste.
Since my sojourn into the world of grub eating I have tasted over three dozen different insects and arthropods. I am yet to find a bland one. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has cataloged well over 1,400 species of arthropods which are edible to humans. FAO also estimates at least 2 billion people today subsist, to a smaller or larger extent, on an insect diet. These insect eaters are found in about 80 percent of countries in the world. Notable exceptions are countries in Europe and large swathes of Northern America where hardly any insect eating culture has taken root.
Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Eating Insects
There are myriad reasons why you should consider transitioning to an insect diet. Unfortunately, I do not have the space to go into the nitty-gritty of these reasons in this post, but you can find more information here. However, to summarize, here are the top five reasons why you should join people like me in consuming more insects as part of your daily diet:
- Insect meals have larger amounts of healthy nutritional elements such as essential amino acids than animal meat products
- It is much cheaper to raise insects than farm animals
- Farm animals such as beef cattle produce too many greenhouse gasses. Insects bred for food are virtually environmentally neutral
- In general, you need much less space and resources to farm insects than getting equivalent food from conventional agriculture
- You can begin eating insects right away (well, almost!)
2 Easy Ways to Begin Eating Insects
For someone living in the West, beginning to eat insects can be a challenging, if not altogether hallowing, experience. There are almost no sellers of insect cuisine and supplies in major western cities. And all this before we talk of the likely taunts and outright stigma you will face once people around you come to learn you eat insects.
Here are two easy and affordable ways you can begin your own journey to be a proud insect eater like yours truly:
1. Farm your Own Mealworms
I would suggest you start your insect eating adventure with mealworms. These protein rich grubs can be grown surreptitiously in a very confined space. All you need is a custom made “Living Farm Hive.” The contraption resembles a miniature office filling cabinet with retractable drawers. Each drawer holds the grubs at a different stage of their lifecycle. You begin by placing mealworm pupae in the top drawer where they mature to beetles and lay eggs. The small eggs will fall through and filter into a lower drawer where they will gradually change to baby mealworms.
They will be ready to eat when they grow to about an inch (3 centimeters) long. Allow some of the worms to transform to pupae and replenish your supply of adult beetles. It is a low maintenance food source as you only need to feed the worms and beetles vegetable scraps once a week. The Living Farm Hive is capable of producing 500 grams worth of protein rich grub every week.
2. Cricket Flour Bars
Even though my experience with insect food is nascent, it is clear to me that crickets are very popular. Indeed, I already know a couple of supermarkets where you can buy high protein flour made from ground crickets. This is a good alternative for those too squeamish to eat insects whole. I have discovered biscuits made from cricket flour are as delectable as any I have ever tasted.
When you come to think of it, the idea of eating insects is not as loathsome as it sounds. With the world’s population approaching its exponential peak, the FAO is considering insect diet as one of the most workable alternatives to guarantee the planet is food secure.
By deciding to feed on insects, you will be joining a rapidly growing community of adventurers and idealists. If you ask me, there is no better time to begin than this very moment.
So, what do you say? Care to join me for a cricket? —Breanne