Crickets Over Cows! Why YOU Should Eat Bugs.
Before getting squeamish, hear me out! ^_^
Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is nothing new. People all over the world have been eating insects as a regular part of their diets for millennia! They are eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia and enjoyed by many at street vendors in Thailand. It is estimated that at least 2 billion people worldwide eat insects regularly. There have been 1,900 species documented as edible, with the most common groups being: beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets (my favorite), cicadas, leafhoppers, true bugs, termites, dragonflies, and flies. They are nutritionally dense and have a low environmental impact.
The insects I am most personally familiar with consuming are crickets and mealworms, which are what I will primarily be referring to in this post.
“Insects should be considered a superfood.”
As far as nutrition goes, insects should be considered a superfood. They are rich in protein, healthy fats, calcium, iron, zinc, and B12. They even provide prebiotics for your gut microbiota by way of chitin, a special insoluble fiber. The polysaccharide structure is similar to indigestible cellulose in plants, in fact, after cellulose, chitin is the second most abundant natural carbohydrate on earth. Chitin is a long chain polymer of N-acetyl-glucosamine that selectively feeds vital populations of microbiota in the human gut, which are responsible for maintaining proper functioning of the gut, intestinal mucosa integrity and barrier control, immunoprotection and energy efficient metabolism!
Crickets are also a complete protein and also have the ideal ratio of omega fatty acids. Gram for gram, they have twice as much protein as beef and a serving provides your daily dose of vitamin B12. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals containing five times more magnesium and three times more iron than beef.
“…the obvious choice for a sustainable source of nutrients…”
Environmental wise, they are the obvious choice for a sustainable source of nutrients to feed the growing population.
Because they are cold-blooded, insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein and crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein.
They produce virtually no methane, reproduce extremely quickly, and require minimal feed, water, and space.
Statistics indicate that if a family of four ate food made with insect protein one day per week for one year, would save the Earth 650,000 liters of fresh water a year, that is about 171,712 gallons of water a year!
Another environmental benefit is that they can be fed on organic waste streams and simultaneously aid in compost production and fertilizer called cricket frass.
There are many ways to enjoy edible insects! Try them as salad toppings, fun snacks, in smoothies, in soups, and even chocolate chip cricket cookies! It just takes a little creativity and bravery to brake the western taboo and gain the awesome nutritious diversity to your menu. They are essentially tiny land crustaceans, if that makes it any easier to think about. It is hard to find organic insects, let alone gluten free, but much research has led me to finally find ORGANIC and GLUTEN FREE CRICKETS from Entomo Farms! They even have a powdered version for further creativity in your gastronomic endeavors.