The Human Use of Insects as a Food Resource

Insects have been a good and natural source of human diet for long periods of time. The tradition has been actively pursued in a number of continents where the collection of insects as food is an essential part of the people’s livelihoods.

Studies on edible insects

The Human Use of Insects as a Food ResourceThe concept of ingesting insects has only been acknowledged and researched very recently due to exposure and interests. Publications found on the topic are spread across many journals in a lot of disciplines, varying from biochemistry, nutrition, food science, anthropology, history, entomology, agriculture, health, ecology, and sociology.

Such publications have started dealing with studies in order to understand the biology and ecology of edible insects, along with other factors to determine their availability, significance as food sources to sustain livelihoods, and their importance of ethno-entomological knowledge.

In addition, these publications also showcase technology transfer’s role to help people in utilizing their traditional knowledge for improving the worth of insects as food sources in their lives. The works created by Françoise Malaisse, Jun Mitsuhashi, and Gene DeFoliart deserve special attention and applause in this field.

Nutritional value of edible insects

Edible insects carry a high quality of amino acids, proteins, and vitamins for human beings. These insects also contribute to a higher rate of food conversion than regular livestock. For instance, cricket needs 6 times lesser feed quantity than regular cattle, 4 times lesser than a sheep, and two times lesser than a pig or a broiler chicken, in order to generate the equivalent sum of protein.

What’s more, edible insects also emit lesser ammonia and greenhouse gases than the traditional livestock. Edible insects are capable of growing on organic wastes too. As a result, these insects are potential sources for the regular production of protein, both for direct consumption by humans or for indirect recomposed food items, and as protein sources to be used in feedstock mixtures.

Overall benefits of edible insects

There are many numerous advantages of eating edible insects as a natural source of food. Breeding of such insects in comparison to livestock is, in fact, a better step towards being environmentally friendly. This is due to the lesser amount of land occupancy, water pollution problems, and much lesser greenhouse gas emissions. Eating house cricket has actually been proven as a more resourceful form of feed conversion.

Moreover, the tremendous augmentation in population around the world has necessitated the need for a good source of protein, which is hardly met by reason of the limited quantity of available farmlands.

In addition, it is most noteworthy to mention the economic advantages of eating insects in relation to the plant cultivations. For example, in Mexico, collecting insects for human use led to a considerable shrinking in the degree of pesticides, which are usually used in an agricultural production. This has also lessened the economic burden for the cultivating farmers. Among the many dangers, faced by everyone across the world, is the food diversity loss.  Hence, the utilization of a varied choice of insects as food would count as a big step in alleviating the problem.

Popular edible insects

The Human Use of Insects as a Food ResourceAt present, there are almost 2 billion people, who consume a large range of edible insects on a regular basis both raw and cooked.

Follow the list of insects, which have been authorized as edible and safe to eat by the U.N.:

Beetles: These insects turn cellulose in trees to digestible fat, and contain more protein quantities than other insects.

Ants: Ants are low on carbs, and contain all essential proteins, calcium, iron, etc.

Grasshoppers: These are a tremendous source of protein, and are usable in any curry flavor.

Stinkbugs: This edible insect tends to put in an apple-like flavor to any sauce, and is a good iodine source.

There is a large variety of edible insects, which can be used for regular consumption. A number of edible insects are in fact packed with good fats, fundamental minerals, proteins, and fibers, which amount to an equivalent of any other food source. Other than an ‘icky’ factor, there is no real issue in consuming insects for an all round diet.