Posted by: Pamela Mason19 AUG 2014
In the context of growing discussion about the sustainability of diets, insects are attracting increasing interest as a food source for the future. Rich in protein, iron and calcium, low in fat and cholesterol, insects are nutritious. And with 40 tonnes of bugs and grubs for every human being on earth, insects are an abundant and sustainable food source. The potential has been recognised by the European Union which has offered member states US $3m to research the use of insects in cooking. Similarly, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has published a list of almost 2,000 edible insect species.
But would people eat them? New data from market research company, Canadean, suggests that we might. Canadean asked 2,000 individuals in the UK whether they would be willing to dine on bugs and 803 of them said they would try insects among whom 127 said they would be interested in eating them regularly. However, 65% of people surveyed were sceptical about eating insects or trying foods made from processed insects. The data from the study show that the major obstacle to insect eating is palatability. The challenge is therefore to market the products appropriately, and a focus on describing an attractive flavour seems to be important. In the survey, 46 per cent of people said they would be willing to try products that were well presented with a full flavour description, while only 35 per cent said they would try them if a full flavour description were not given.
Insects could also serve as an environmentally friendly alternative for the production of animal protein with respect to greenhouse gas (GHG) and ammonia (NH3) emissions. A 2010 Dutch study quantified GHG and NH3 production and weight gain (as a measure of feed conversion efficiency) of five insect species of which the first three are considered edible: Tenebrio molitor, Acheta domesticus, Locusta migratoria, Pachnoda marginata, and Blaptica dubia. Large differences were found among the species regarding their production of GHGs. The insects in this study had a higher relative growth rate and emitted comparable or lower amounts of GHG than described for pigs and much lower amounts of GHG than cattle. The same was true for CO2 and NH3 production.
Should you want to try eating insects, you can buy chocolate covered ants, grasshoppers and scorpions, hornets honey and worm crisps. Just search online.