By Megan Smiley, Feb 4 2016 09:54AM
Entomophagy, the act of humans consuming insects. Although the norm for many cultures (around 80% of the world's population) across South America, Asia and Africa, most Brits' exposure and knowledge of eating creepy crawlies starts and finishes with having watched celebs eat them as a challenge on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And for them, the idea of it isn't an appealing one.
However, with the detrimental environmental effects (air and water pollution, deforestation and overfishing) of farming such vast quantities of livestock 'needed' to fulfil the growing demands for meat and fish, then eating insects might be the answer. It is a cost-effective and eco-friendly process and they're packed with protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre and healthy fats.
The availability of insect based products in the developed world is increasing and cricket flour is one of the main ingredients you'll see. Smash Nutrition have Madagascan Vanilla and Peruvian Cocoa flavoured protein powder made from natural protein sources including soy, casein, pumpkin seed powder, spirulina and, of course, cricket flour. Protein bars using cricket flour are also popping up for your 'on the go' insect fuelled protein hit!
We are yet to see much of a take up of using insects as a main component of a meal, though apparently cheesy locust croquettes are pretty tasty! There is now a restaurant dedicated to entomophagy in Pembrokeshire called Grub Kitchen and Wahaca did feature grasshoppers on their menu for a while, but apart from that, insects are a rare sight on most menus.
I personally don't have a problem with the idea of eating insects, I might not hanker for a cricket 'burger' in the same way I do a tuna steak, although I don't know that as I've never had one. But I can see the massive benefits and I care about our planet, and if we don't change our eating habits, with an increasing global population and an ever increasing meat and fish consumption, then the impact on the environment could and will be catastrophic.
I understand not everyone will like the idea of eating insects, but if we don't shift our stubborn and unfounded views and move this very sustainable, eco-friendly and nutritious source of protein away from a taboo food and into an everyday food then we're asking for trouble. Many of us don't think twice about eating seafood which isn't dissimilar to insects in many ways, and who's had those delicious garlicky buttery snails in France?
There are other ways in which you can help as well:
- Go meat-free for at least one day a week. There are plenty of non-meat products that contain protein that aren’t insects, think lentils, beans, soya, nuts and seeds.
- Buy ethically where you can. Fairtrade helps human rights of producers, Organic helps environment sustainability, and Farm Assured helps the quality of food, animal welfare and environmental protection. Also, think about about buying local and seasonal products, reducing the 'food miles' of your groceries.
- Don't waste food! This is one of my top pet hates. If you have leftovers, great, keep them and eat them. Don't let food go off, and if it is a little after it's best you can still use it. I'm not talking gone off meat and fish but over ripe fruit and veg - great for smoothies and soups, stale bread - great for bread crumbs etc. And remember you can pretty much freeze anything, there's really no excuse!
Now, anyone for some mealworm fried rice?