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Should We Eat Insects? A Sustainable Future

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Food supplies are finite and scientists are getting desperate on alternative food supplies for the human population. Human’s eating insects is nothing new, globally 2 billion people consume insects, this practice is called entomophagy. It is a common practice in Africa and is home to the richest diversity of edible insects with over 500 different species being consumed. From caterpillars to termites, locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and ants. The edible insect market is set to exceed £406m by 2023.

For decades scientists have proposed insects as feed for animals but views on entomophagy differ vastly. Most edible insects are harvested from the wild and little research has been put into place on methods of mass production. To implement mass production the biodiversity of the insect needs to be understood comprehensively and currently there is no demand for this understanding.

But why should we eat insects? Insects are rich in nutrients such as amino acids which aren’t found in most traditional food products. Crickets contain more protein per gram than beef, chicken or pork with 68g of protein per 100g compared to 31g of protein in beef. Edible insects are said to be more sustainable than other meat, in the terms of taking up less land space and requiring less animal feed than livestock. Alongside the massive health benefits, edible insects top the market when it comes to a sustainable food source. They emit low levels of greenhouse gases compared to most other domestic livestock and require little resources to farm them, for example crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle.

To allow for the edible insects to infiltrate our market, perception on eating insects needs to change. Sainsbury’s has become the first UK supermarket to stock edible insects. By the end of November customers will be able to fill their shopping baskets with Eat Grub’s Smoky BBQ Crunchy Roasted Crickets. The house crickets, Acheta domesticus, are farmed in Europe and will come in packets of 50 for only £1.50.

In true “I’m a celebrity style” we had Food and Drink Editor, Paige Brooks and Film Editor, Jordan King try some critter treats from Amazon as the Sainsbury’s crickets are currently sold out across the UK.

Paige said that “When it went in first goes in your mouth it’s creepy and foreign” and that “it’s comparable to the cinnamon challenge” and that she “10/10 would not do it again”. She went on to say “If the world runs out of meat, I would just be a vegetarian”.

When asked did you prefer the mealworms or the crickets, Jordan, the Film editor said “That’s like being asked if I would prefer to be kick in the right B*****k or the left one.”

Though we are long away from getting a side of crickets in our local restaurants, edible insects are becoming commercially available are steps towards a more sustainable future.

 

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Charlotte Bilsby

Science Editor 2018-19

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