Edible insects – some of the discusson

There was a really informative article in last month’s New Scientist on edible insects. She described some of the reasons why “Edible insects are billed as the next global superfood” (p.35) and what some of the restrictions on that process may be. She writes:

“A growing chorus has it that insects are the superfood of the future. They provide a viable alternative to meat that’s not only more sustainable than pork and beef, but full of vitamins and minerals too.” (p.35)http://themeatymatters.wordpress.com/2010/10/

It seems to me that the edibility of insects is worth including in a food science programme; not least because aversion is one of the obstacles to this food (and education could go some way to overcoming this). The issue of sustainability is wrapped around edible insects. The need to farm them without risk of illness and without increased energy consumption means that there are a number of problems that need solved – and will likely be solved through science.

Ceurstemont explains:

“In the past few years, […] governments and environmental groups have expressed a growing interest in putting insects on everyone’s plate. According to a recent United Nations report, the current rate of global population growth will require a 70 percent increase in food production by 2050. The demand will mainly be for foods rich in protein, but there isn’t enough land available to raise the necessary livestock. The UN report identified insects as a way to fill the gap. Not only can they be reared in a fraction of the space necessary for traditional livestock, but their waste products contain less ammonia – which makes soil acidic – and emit far fewer greenhouse gases.
Mainly, however, they are protein powerhouses. Mealworms contain more protein than the equivalent amount of pork. A 100-gram serving of dried flies or Mexican grasshoppers contains about the same 28 grams of protein you’ll find in 226-gram steak. Many insects are also packed with vitamins and minerals, in particular the zinc and iron that many diets lack; two silkmoth larvae contain 10 times the iron found in 100 grams of grilled beef, and a 100-gram serving of cooked caterpillars – a popular dish in Angola – satisfies our daily requirements not just for iron and zinc but also copper and thiamin. Most insects even contain fibre and healthy unsaturated fats which is reflected in their flavour.” (p.35)

Identifying some of the issues surrounding production, Ceurstemont notes: “What happens […] when insects get sick? ‘There are no veterinarians for insects,’ says Marion Peters, who was confronted with this lack of knowledge when she founded Dutch edible insect supplier Bugs Originals. We don’t know anything about insect diseases, she says: ‘if an insect gets ill, we don’t know how to cure it.’ But disease is almost certain to strike in cramped quarters [such as those of an insect farm].'” (p.37)

Ref: Sandrine Ceurstemont (6th July 2013) Grub’s Up. New Scientist, No. 2924, pp.34-37

I took the photo from: http://themeatymatters.wordpress.com/2010/10/


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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