The idea of rustling up some bugs for breakfast may turn you a tad queasy, though entomophagy (aka eating insects) appears to be growing in popularity. It's nothing new, people ate creepy crawlies 10,000 years ago, and around 2 billion people regularly do so today. The most commonly eaten bugs are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants. Though, with over 1,900 species considered edible, there's certainly plenty to try!
Most recently, insects have become a bit of a novelty on the UK food scene, featuring as garnishes in many experimental restaurants, and even fossilised into lollipops for a sweet treat with a difference!
So what's the hype? Well, not only are they a sustainable food source, insects are packed with nutrition. High in fat, protein, vitamins, fibre and minerals, many insects offer a nutritional value on par with fish or lean meat.
Let's take a look...
- Protein - House crickets contain an average pf 205 g/kg protein, whereas beef contains 256 g/kg.
- Fats - Mealworms contain as much unsaturated omega-3 and six fatty acids as fish and even more than beef and pork.
- Iron - Locusts contain up to 20 mg/100g iron and mopane caterpillars contain a whopping 31 mg/100g, whereas beef only contains around 6 mg/100g.
- Calcium - Many insects, such as crickets, ants, grasshoppers and certain caterpillars, are extremely rich in calcium. Soldier fly larvae (if you dare!) offers a serious dose of calcium, off the nutritional chart.
Compare the nutritional value of insects to your usual meats and fish and it's clear to see which one takes the prize!
Besides nutritional value, insects are also abundant and sustainable. Farming insects takes very little water and fuel compared to harvesting livestock, grains and vegetables. It's also more efficient than raising cattle. One hundred pounds of feed produces 10 pounds of beef. The same amount of feed would produce more than four times that amount in crickets*. With these statistics in mind, it's easy to see how insects could help provide a sustainable food source for the future.
So whilst we understand the benefits of this alternative food source, this doesn't exactly leave us mouth watering to give it a try! Of course, they have to taste good too!
We caught up with Peter Bickerton, who made the headlines for his own interest in insects as an alternative to mainstream meats. He gave us his own recipe for Mealworm Pâté...
- 150-300g mealworms
- One carrot
- One medium-sized potato
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds (go mental)
- 100ml Olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic (Peter says, if you can get some crickets too, then another 100g of those).
- Add a few of your favourite spices to taste... salt, pepper, sage, whatever floats your boat.
Blend all of these in a blender to a smooth paste and bake in a bread tin for about 40 mins at 160° or until nice and brown on top.
Huge thanks to Peter for his recipe, which the Focus team will be giving a try!
* Source: National Geographic
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