The Need to Eat Bugs for Protein
Entomophagy, the consumption of insects, has recently seen a surge of interest as an alternative sustainable source of protein. A recent research study conducted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization1 examined the amount of nutrients (particularly protein and iron) absorbed by the human body from consuming bugs such as grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects.
Insects might not sound appetizing to many Westerners, but they've always been a part of the traditional diets in other regions of the world, and what this study reveals may be the very future of our main food source that can possibly replace meats.
According to the research, about 1,900 insect species have been documented as a food source globally. It is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least two billion people worldwide.
The researchers analyzed grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, and buffalo worms for their mineral contents, and estimated the likely amount of each nutrient absorbed by digestion of these insects using a lab model of human digestion.
Commonly consumed insect species could be excellent sources of bioavailable iron
The insects had varying levels of iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Crickets, for example, had higher levels of iron than the other insects did. Iron is a particularly important nutrient that is often missing in non-meat diets, causing iron-deficiency anemia. Minerals including calcium, copper, and zinc from grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms are more readily available for absorption in comparison to sirloin beef.
The evidence supports that insect made food could very effectively and safely help meet the nutritional needs of the world's growing population, and there are already many products such as cricket protein bars, and tortillas being sold on the market. It is reasonable to conclude that insect farming could be simple, low cost, and very profitable in the near future.
1. American Chemical Society. "The buzz about edible bugs: Can they replace beef?" ScienceDaily, 26 October 2016.