If you went into a restaurant today and your meal arrived with a cricket in it, you’d send it back, demand your money back and possibly get the health department to investigate it. In the future though, you might begin to see menus with insects given prime importance. With the world suffering from a severe food shortage, many people are beginning to look at insects as an important and affordable protein source. It might send a shiver down your spine now, but these bugs could save the environment, end world hunger and even put the economy back on track. Think these claims sound far-fetched? They’re actually a lot more viable than you’d think.
Many economically backward cultures have for long incorporated insects as a part of their diet. Walk into a food market in Vietnam and don’t be surprised if you see stalls selling mountains of crickets to their customers. Insects are almost completely made up of protein, so in countries where protein sources are few and expensive, insects are invaluable in keeping the threat of malnutrition at bay. But while insects have long been looked at as inferior food sources, developed countries are now taking a closer look at the many benefits of an insect-rich diet.
Apart from the protein content, insects are one of the most environment-friendly foods you can come across. The meat industry is responsible for razing millions of hectares of vegetation to the ground. The gases given off by the large-scale slaughter of animals are also incredibly harmful to the earth’s atmospheric cover. A report by PETA claims that an incredible 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the meat industry. The seafood industry is just as damaging to the earth’s ecological system. Overfishing has driven many species of fish onto the brink of extinction. Fishing methods like deep sea trawling kill even small schools of fish that aren’t used for human consumption anyway, destroy coral reefs and throw the underwater ecosystem into jeopardy. In the face of all this, insects emerge as one of the best and most sustainable sources of protein in the world.
When measured up against the human population, there are 40 tons of insects for every human being on the planet. In other words, every person could eat as many insects as they wanted and there would still be enough left to feed them for the rest of their lives. Insects are also very cost-effective, making them the most viable solution to ending world hunger. Who knew such a tiny creature could potentially end a seemingly insurmountable global crisis? Unlike our favorite meat sources which feed off valuable grain and reduce our green cover drastically, insects feed on waste. They don’t require huge resources to be farmed on a large scale. Most will be very happy to feed on compost material, thus reducing our bio-waste production as well.
Of course, none of these amazing qualities of insects will matter if they’re not tasty enough to compel you to actually eat them. Luckily though, once you move past your mental block against the idea of eating an insect, they actually taste pretty darn good. Crickets are said to taste almost exactly like shrimp, while larvae taste a lot like mushrooms. Even better, deep-fried insects have been widely said to taste just like bacon! So if they’re tasty, nutritious and environmentally sustainable, what’s really there to stop insects from taking over the food world in the future? Just ignore the bug eyes and antennas and pop one in. Who knows, they might even become your new favorite food!