Are edible insects the future of sustainable protein?
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
It’s time to consider alternative, sustainable proteins. Could edible insects be the future of food...
The world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Over the next three
decades, there will be 2 billion more people on this planet!
Due to the population increase, the world’s natural resources (land, water, food, and
energy) are already under high pressure. If we are to meet the aims of the United
Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and improve the living conditions
for everyone on this earth, the need for sustainable solutions is at an all-time high.
Food (our favourite topic) is top of the global to-do list. There have been many
suggestions as to how food can be sustainability produced and satisfy the bellies of
nearly 10 billion people.
The new, sustainable solution could be a historic one.
One of the suggestions is to include edible insects in our diets. From a Western
perspective, this may sound like a strange and rather odd idea, but the inclusion of
insects in people’s diets has been around for hundreds of years.
In fact, today, around 2.5 billion people, mainly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,
regularly consume insects as part of their diet.
A tasty snack found in the rainforest in Ecuador!
Now, for those of you who haven’t heard of this before – the practice of eating
insects is called entomophagy. It basically refers to the consumption of anything
that has a chitinous exoskeleton (i.e. an outer shell), a three-part body, three pairs of
jointed legs, compound eyes (i.e. lots of little eyes) and two antennae.
Globally, there are up to 2100 edible insects that have been found, meaning the
options for unique recipes are endless! Even better, insects are a rich source of
animal protein, essential amino acids, minerals (K, Na, Ca, Cu, Fe, Zn, Mn and P),
vitamins (B-group, A, D, E, K and C) and unsaturated fatty acids. So, every bite has
the potential to meet many of our dietary needs.
Green grubs: insects are a more sustainable protein source.
Now, if all the vitamins aren’t enough to sway you, the sustainability element of
introducing insects into our diets might just twist your arm. After all, that’s why your
here and reading this post, right?
Life cycle Assessments (LCAs) have been made of several different edible insects
such as crickets. It has been shown that the amount of land and water needed is
significantly lower than any other more traditional source of protein (poultry, pork and beef) and, insects have one of the lowest greenhouse gas impacts. Great news!
Despite some of the resistance within Western cultures, it is expected that the global edible insect market will exceed 522 million $US by 2023.
So, who knows? Before long the Floop App could include the environmental and climate impact of food items such as crickets and mealworms, ready for you to include in your own recipes.
We look forward to seeing your take on cricket a l’Orange!
Would you try edible insects? Let us know your thoughts on the future of food
and sustainable protein below.
Tae-Kyung Kim, Hae In Yong, Young-Boong Kim, Hyun-Wook Kim, and Yun-Sang Choi. 2019. Edible Insects as a Protein Source: A Review of Public Perception, Processing Technology, and Research Trends. Food Science of Animal Resources, 39(4), pp. 521 -540.