Are insects the new buzz for protein intake?
When we think about getting in our protein, we typically think of chicken, beef or any other animal meat; and for those vegetarians: beans, nuts and tofu.
However, new research says to consider insects. According to last week’s discussions at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo, insects may just be the new environmentally-friendly way to get your daily dose of protein.
Participants discussed how insects are economically practical and do not take as much a toll on the environment as other sources of protein.
“Insects require less feed, less water, less land, and less energy to produce and their production generates substantially lower environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and greenhouse gases,” said Dr. Aaron Dossey, founder of All Things Bugs LLC, in Gainesville, Florida, at the meeting.
Dossey also said that insects contain a greater quality of proteins that are good for the body.
“Some insects are as much as 80 percent protein by weight and provide more essential amino acids than most animal proteins,” he said. “They are also rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.”
Dr. Florence Dunkel, Associate Professor of Entomology at Montana State University and editor of Food Insects Newsletter, said at the meeting that about 85 percent of insects in the U.S. may be used a food sources. Dunkel said that locusts, grasshoppers, crickets and beetles are some of the primary insects eaten around the world.
With an abundance of insects worldwide, why don’t we eat them more often? The answer, according to Dunkel, is cultural acceptance and differences.
“Western cultures’ aversion to the use of edible insects as a food source is a serious issue in human nutrition. But it’s the way forward into a sustainable world environment,” Dunkel said.
Countries across the globe consider certain insects as a normal part of their meal and eat them often. It has never been a popular delicacy in the U.S., and researchers also say that Americans need to get past the socially constructed image of eating insects. Not only that, with constant increases in the world population and limited amount of resources, insects as food may provide a solution.
Researchers say there is still more to be discovered when it comes to making insects a marketable resource. You can learn more on these proposals here.
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