Eating insects better for waistlines & environment

By Mariam Digges

Eating insects better for waistlines & environment
Incorporating insects into our diet could hold the answer to the obesity problem, as well as combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Beetle juice, anyone?

Sure, the idea of munching on a fried caterpillar might make our stomachs turn, but a U.N report published this week has stated the health benefits of these nutritious little critters, when it comes to fighting obesity.

Over 1,900 species of insects are eaten around the world, predominantly in Africa and Asia where dishes such as ant soup are a delicacy. Over in the western world, it’s a different story –  the thought of incorporating crunchy termites into our diet still a foreign concept.

But according to the authors of the study by the Forestry Department (part of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation) many insects contain the same if not a larger amount of protein and minerals, and healthier fats than most traditional meats do.

“In the West we have a cultural bias, and think that because insects come from developing countries, they cannot be good,” said report author and scientist Arnold van Huis from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Take Denmark’s Noma, the world’s former best restaurant in the world, for example; Rene Redzepi’s award winning restaurant is famous for incorporating ants and fermented grasshoppers into its menu. Locally, Australian Chinese chef Kylie Kwong features earthworms and crickets in her modern Asian restaurant, Billy Kwong.

Aside from our waistline, there are other perks to igniting an insect eating boom; the move could also provide new opportunities for business in developing countries – especially for women, who are often the ones responsible for collecting the insects in rural areas.

Not to mention, insect farming is far less taxing on the environment, producing fewer greenhouse gases than farming other traditional livestock.

And the barriers to these dishes are purely psychological, according to studies. One blind test carried out by van Huis’s team saw that nine out of 10 people preferred meatballs made from half mealworms, half meat than those made from just meat alone.

Food for thought.


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