Mealworms, grubs, crickets, or grasshoppers for dinner tonight? The thought of eating insects often provokes revulsion among people who come from Western cultures, while 2 billion people worldwide, for example in Asia and South America, eat insects every day. But now insects could become the new superfoods. Eating them has both ecological and health benefits. Raising insects produces fewer greenhouse gas and uses less water and land than beef, chicken, and pork. Some people are even hoping farming insects could help to replace palm oil in products such as packet soups, chocolate cream, and other spreads as it heavily destroys the rain forest in Indonesia and Malaysia. Bugs are also good sources of protein, fiber, and fatty acids.
„Research on the subject is relatively new,” says Alan-Javier Hernández-Álvarez, a nutrition researcher at the University of Leeds in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. “Edible insects could be the solution to the problem of how to meet the growing global demand for food in a sustainable way,” he says. There’s an entire industry that produces insect dishes such as protein bars, pastas and chips made from insects. Some more examples:
- Grub granola, cockroach milk, and silkworm vanilla ice-cream are just a few offerings to make insects less icky and more appealing to diners.
- Many trendy restaurants serve edible insects meanwhile, from Paris, Munich, Washington to Toronto. Menus offering roasted crickets with barbecue flavor, black ants guacamole, or toasted chapulines tacos sound quite yummy.
- The furniture chain Ikea has created a new version of its iconic meatballs – made from insects. The Crispy Bug Balls, made of mealworms, carrots, parsnips, and beetroot, are part of a new range aimed at saving the planet.
- Supermarkets sell pasta from mealworm flour or insect burgers. A German producer of the buffalo worm burgers underlines their sustainability effect: 100 times less CO2 emissions and 10 times less fodder as the production of beef.
International scientists are also currently working on producing cockroach milk which is healthier than cow milk and shall help people in crisis zones to fight against hunger. But even for the Western countries, a recent British survey foresees for the new high protein super food: By 2029 we will all eat insects.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD 2: Cheers to a New Trend: Beer Made From Waste Water follows next Wednesday, September 16.
Written by Marika Schaertl, freelance journalist, Munich, Germany.