Eat a bug. Save the planet.
Eating insects like ants, spiders, dragonflies and locusts is evidently good for the environment.
The global population is expected to grow to 8 billion people in less than 20 years, and meat consumption is increasing drastically. Finding new sources of protein will become vital. Perhaps it’s time, environmentalists argue, that we start getting used to the idea of eating things other than beef, pork, chicken and lamb. Insects are said to be ten times more eco-friendly than beef.
Now there’s a current movement afoot to bring insects onto the dinner plate in the Western world.
Using valuable agricultural resources to feed cattle and hogs contaminates drinking water, generates greenhouse gases and accelerates rainforest devastation. Insect protein, on the other hand, is both nutritious and environmentally friendly. Raising insects doesn’t require grazing land, feed, or sewage systems. And they taste pretty good, with a bit of further processing.
Insects are certainly plentiful. Of the more than 1.5 million know animal species, two-thirds are insects.
In an article appearing on Spiegel Online, Hilmar Schmundt writes about his dining experience at the Grand Banquet of Rainforest Insects held recently on the grounds of the University of Oxford, where such delicacies as dried salted mealworms were served. He reports that they looked and tasted much like miniature pretzel sticks.
For 2.5 billion people in the world today—especially those living in tropical regions—insects have long been a staple of their local diet.
Another dish, which is called “hormonas culonas” (fat bottomed ants) in Colombia, were the unanimous favorite at the meal. The ants were coated in salt, grilled and eaten like peanuts. Schmundt described them as “crisp when bitten into, with a smoky flavor and a nutty finish.
Another dinner attendee notes that the difference between a prawn and a locust is slight—only that one lives in the ocean and the other on land.
It should be pointed out that for 2.5 billion people in the world today—especially those living in tropical regions—insects have long been a staple of their local diet. Butterflies, termites, dragonflies, and worms are popular fare in parts of Africa, in Thailand, and Mexico.
Insects are rich in vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats and are rarely contaminated by environmental pollutants, and environmental activists hope that European and American consumers will soon be willing to at least give them a try.
Some of the little creepy-crawly-flying creatures are beginning to creep onto the culinary scene in the West. Gourmet food sections of London shops offer tarantulas and scorpions as well as more mundane insects, Schmundt reports; and in a Berlin wine shop silkworms or rhinoceros beetles are a recommended pairing with a pinot gris.
We predict it will be a while before we put insects on any of our Food Channel food trends top ten lists. But another decade down the road? We’ll keep our ear to the ground—and hope nothing icky crawls in while we’re at it.
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