Protein from Bugs? Really?

August 7th, 2015

Protein from Bugs? Really?

Given the choice between a grilled burger and a chocolate covered grasshopper when in need of a protein fix, most Americans wouldn’t think twice.  And while eating insects for protein isn’t trendy in America, more and more experts maintain that our aversion to eating bugs will have to be overcome in order to feed a burgeoning global population.

There’s a movement to promote insects (crickets, mealworms, caterpillars, etc) and get them accepted onto American plates just as they are in many developing countries. It is no secret that The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization supported this movement in May of 2013 when it published Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. This 185-page report argues that eating more insects may be the best way to feed the estimated nine billion people who will live on the planet Earth by 2050.

Insects are surprisingly nutritious. An exceptional source of protein, they also supply all nine amino acids the body can’t make on its own. Many insects deliver just as much protein as beef and some species provide even more.  Many insects are also high in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.

Unlike meat, insects are ingested whole, even when ground as flour. That means you’re also eating nutrient-rich bones and organs along with protein-packed muscle. Eating insects is also good for the environment as they require less feed, less space and a fraction of the water used to raise beef cattle. According to UBC Land and Food Systems researcher Yasmin Akhtar , “Crickets require 12 times less feed and 13 times less water than cattle to produce the same amount of edible protein.” Insects also emit less greenhouse gas than livestock. So maybe it’s time for Americans to start thinking more about the future and less about the beef.


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