It seems what environmentalists and foodies have long hailed as the future is becoming a reality in several Western Countries. For instance, a report carried in https://www.grainews.ca, stated that grasshopper burgers were finding their way to Switzerland. Coop Switzerland launched a new line of food products that are made from insects — the insect burger and insect balls. The Swiss are not the only Western population that has recently become acquainted with insect menus. These are becoming more popular and may even become the latest food trend, as they are heading Canadian grocery shelves destined to be sold for consumption.
Sustaining the environment while trying to feed the over seven billion mouths on our planet has become increasingly challenging. Insects as an edible delicacy is no new concept. There are some communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia that have a strong culinary tradition of bug consumption.
The report adds that even some high-end restaurants in Western countries have insects on the menu. However, from other reports, one gets the idea that the idea of consuming an insect, such as grasshopper, a caterpillar, etc, remains quite distasteful and is not yet fully embraced by large sections of the population in Western countries. That may soon change though. There has been support of the consumption of insects, what is termed “entomophagy” even from the world body, UN.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) believes that insects may be the answer to the challenges faced by global society in so far as food shortages with increase in human population. Insects, says the FAO, have good source of animal protein, fat, vitamin as well as fibre amongst other nutrients. The It is estimated that they already form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. The FAO report (Edible insects, Future prospects for food and feed security, Rome, 2013) refer to the need to feed the world population that requires an increase in food production as one of the key drivers of promoting the consumption of insects by humans.
In relation the environment, consider the following benefit:
- Insects require less water in comparison to cattle rearing for instance
- Insects emit fewer greenhouse gases (GHG’s)
- Insects can reared on organic side streams. This it is said, reduces environmental contamination yet adding value to waste
Cattle produces a higher amount of greenhouse gases and some experts equate the impact of one kilogram of beef to driving two hundred and fifty (250) km’s in a car. That is excessive. Therefore, the argument for the consumption of insects for our protein is supported by the reduced amount of greenhouse gases that would be emitted.
Another related positive, is the reduction of risk of disease from eating insects. Insects are said to pose a lower risk to pass diseases on to us. This according to the UN FAO and numerous other scientists.
But eating insects, as much as it has usefulness, poses some risks as can be read from a report conducted by the European Food Safety Authority. The report mentions some risks associated with consumption of insects as a protein source. The risks to human health, as per this report, much depends on how the insects were reared and processed.
Grasshoppers contain between 15 and 20 per cent protein, depending on the type and stage they are in.