Yes, a cricket. The insect. Would you, if you knew it was good for you, eat powdered crickets? The thought of eating whole crickets would make most Westerners gag, but in many parts of the world, insects are just another part of a nutritious, balanced diet! Eating bugs is actually even better for the environment than eating huge mammals like cows.
So, how many of you would actually try it? Let's review the benefits of an insect-rich diet!
According to a 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), around 2 billion people worldwide eat insects as part of a traditional diet - a practice known as entomophagy. Beetles are the insects that get consumed the most, followed by caterpillars (oh no, not the butterflies! 🦋😥), bees (shouldn't we be protecting them? 🐝😰), wasps (oh, that's ok 😂👍), ants (cover them in chocolate! 🐜🍫), grasshoppers (oh dear... oh no 🤢😷), locusts (nightmare fuel 😳😱), and crickets (sorry, Jiminy! 🦗🎩).
Eating insects, or entomophagy, is actually pretty common in China, Africa, many parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and even some areas of Central and South America. However, like I stated before, many Westerners would NOT consider eating insects because... insects are "yucky."
Did you know that in South Korea-- the land of amazing skincare products and BTS-- consuming silk worm pupae is common practice? It is called beondegi and it usually cooked in large pots and sold in parks! It was very popular during the wartime period when they were an excellent and cheap form of protein. Personally, I think just the smell is foul, but I'm a picky Westerner. The older generation in Korea love it and you can find canned beondegi in most convenience stores!
A study published recently in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed found that 72 percent of Americans would not even consider eating insects. In fact, they view entomophagy with "disgust" and even associate eating insects with "primitive behavior." Yikes! Westerners REALLY don't like the idea of putting insects in their mouths! However, "yucky" or not, eating insects actually does come with many benefits.
Reducing Consumption of Red Meats
A majority of them are rich in protein, healthy fats, iron, and calcium. They are also very low in carbohydrates. In fact, insects are just as (and maybe even more) nutritious than beef.
|100g of cricket||100g of beef|
The low fat content of insects can help combat obesity as it'll give Americans another, healthier source of nutrition and protein in a time when Americans are eating red meat more than ever.
In fact, the trend is clear for 2018. Even with the pea protein obsession and the invention of lab-grown burgers, Americans are set to eat more meat in 2018 than ever before. The average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds (100.8 kilos) of red meat and poultry this year! "Domestic production will surpass 100 billion pounds for the first time, as livestock owners expand their herds on the back of cheap feed grain," according to Bloomberg.
Replacing the typical beef burger with a more nutritious cricket burger may help Americans avoid the health complications that comes with the overconsumption of red meat. Also, it minimizes the slaughter of our fellow mammals, so win-win!
Fighting Malnutrition and Feeding a Growing Population
According to The World Bank, the global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, which means we need to produce around 50 percent more food in order to feed an extra 2 billion people. That doesn't even take into account that currently there is widespread malnutrition! Could all of this be alleviated by a cheap and abundant food source like insects?
Rise of Insect-Based Foods in the West
There are food establishments like Don Bugito in the U.S. that serve bug-based dishes such as spicy worms and chile-lime crickets. In the UK, Grub Kitchen opened and started serving delicacies such as chipotle cricket along with olive goat cheese mixed with black ants.
Westerners may not be adopting eating insects anytime soon, but it would be interesting to see cricket-based protein powders or locust burgers in the future. Perhaps even the rise of supplemental insect protein? A powdered assortment of encapsulated bugs could prove to be a more popular than worm soup or bee fries? Or we just deep fry all of it and eat them at county fairs? Let's just cover them all in chocolate!
What do you think about it? Red meat consumption is reaching an all-time high, so any alternative right now, especially one as cheap and abundant as insects, may not only prove to be beneficial for humans, but could also reduce the massive amounts of factory farmed animals as well. Sound off in the comments below!
P.S.- Check out this study!