Foods of the Future: Insect Protein

Could eating bugs be key to saving the environment? With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, experts believe that protein-rich insects are the most efficient way of feeding extra mouths.

While bugs are a staple food for many cultures across the globe, the UK is yet to acquire a taste for critters. However, the increasing instability of the meat industry may have us re-thinking our attitudes. 80% of agricultural land is used for animal farming yet it accounts for just 20% of the world’s calories. By comparison, insects require far less feed, water and space to farm. Consequently, Keiran Olivares Whitaker, founder of insect farming business Entocycle, believes that change is imminent; “we will have to normalise eating insect protein in the next two to three years – we cannot keep destroying the developing world to feed our luxury diet.”

Insects are the natural alternative to meat due to their remarkably high protein content. 100 grams of grasshoppers can provide up to 28 grams of protein whereas the same amount of chicken offers just 22 grams. The nutritional benefits of bugs don’t stop there; they are also high in B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron and omega-3. Moreover, they supply all nine amino acids that the human body can’t produce on its own. It’s these figures that have made insect protein a hit with the UK’s fitness industry; a recent study conducted by PureGym found that 47% of people who exercised daily were willing to sample edible bugs.

For those still repulsed by the idea of eating creepy crawlies, it’s important to note that insects can be consumed in various ways. Although they are generally served whole, crickets and mealworms can be ground up into effective flour alternatives. This means that consumers can make their own insect-based cupcakes, muffins and pancakes.

A number of projects exist to destigmatise the consumption of insects. For more information, please visit; http://www.proteinsect.eu/index.php?id=32.

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