The practice of eating insects

Although we sometimes balk at the idea of eating insects, they were a staple part of ancient European's diets. It wasn't until farming livestock started pushing insects out of our diets that we stopped eating them. Nowadays, there are lots of reasons why eating insects is becoming more and more popular!

Getting over the ick-factor: changing our diets

In Europe, we've culturally been brought up to have a certain disgust toward insects. A lot of people are put off just by the thought of eating a whole animal. In large parts of Asia, though, insects are a completely normal part of people's diets.

At the moment, however, we're rethinking our diets in general, questioning our conventional sources of protein due to their large environmental impacts. Compared to farming traditional livestock like cattle and pigs, raising insects is far more sustainable, as insects require far fewer resources to raise.

The advantages of entomophagy

Insects have a higher nutritional content than meat and are rich in:

  • vitamins
  • fats
  • proteins
  • minerals
  • fibre

Additionally, 80 percent of insect's bodies are edible, while only half as much can be consumed from cattle. Compared to one kilogram of beef, only one eighth of the raw materials are required to raise one kilogram of insects. Raising insects also requires much less water, as they absorb water from their food. Furthermore, raising insects produces significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Due to their small size, they require less space and are ready for harvest faster due to their rapid growth.

Eating insects significantly reduces one's ecological footprint. Raising insects is also cheaper than raising livestock, making it sensible from a sustainable point of view. Another advantage to raising insects is the lower amount of excretion. Compared to conventional livestock farming, insects create comparatively little waste, preventing over-fertilization.

Mealworms - an alternative protein source for athletes

Mealworms are a commonly eaten insect that are especially interesting for athletes. When mealworms are freeze-dried, their protein content increases from 18.7 percent to 50.9 percent, according to the German Consumer Advice Centre. In comparison, beef has a protein content of 22.3 percent and pork and chicken have a protein content of 22.8 percent.

The thought of eating an insect still takes some getting used to for lots of people, but there are lots of products made with ground insect protein, like protein bars, protein powder, worm flour, baking mixes and ready mixes that make it a lot easier to ease your way in in.

Which insects are suitable for consumption?

Please don't eat insects that you collect yourself. Wild insects are risky to eat because you can't be sure what they're eaten themselves, if they are healthy or if they're endangered.

You also shouldn't eat insects from pet shops, as they do not meet guidelines for human consumption.

Caution is advised for people with allergies

If you're allergic to house mites and crustaceans, insects can be a cross allergy. This is because the protein that causes the allergic reaction from house mites and crustaceans is very similar to the protein found in insects.

Entomophagy in the future

According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world population is expected to increase to over 9 billion people by 2050, and the need for food will increase by up to 70%. For many experts, insects are the food of the future, as they require significantly less water and land to raise. In addition, they can be bred in a resource-saving manner and produce fewer greenhouse gases than raising livestock.

Products and recipes

As insects become more and more popular as an alternate food source, lots of start-ups have started offering a wide range of products made from mealworms, crickets and other insects, like snacks, baking mixes, protein bars and flour.