If you're like many people in the West, you may get squeamish at the thought of eating bugs. Visions of consuming giant hissing cockroaches on Fear Factor may be dancing through your head but it isn't so crazy. Eating insects is more common than you think. New markets and food products feature the little critters as a healthy and sustainable alternative to animal protein.
Crickets and other insects not only taste good, but are excellent for you. Need further convincing? Here's five reasons to eat crickets.
1. ¼ of the World's population knows bugs can be quite delicious.
The practice of eating insects in known as entomophagy. Insects currently feed about 2 billion people each day. Think Africa, Asia, and Latin America. People have consumed bugs for centuries and they have become a staple of many diets around the world. They're even treated as a delicacy in some circumstances.
Adversity to eating bugs is largely due to the cultural stigma in the Western world. This likely developed during the agricultural revolution, when bugs began to be seen as pests from eating crops. But It's time to see insects differently so we can eat their delicious little crunchy bodies, and enjoy all their benefits like the rest of the world.
2. Crickets are densely nutritious, even compared to traditional sources of meat.
Crickets boast an excellent nutrient profile, providing a great source of lean protein, vitamins and minerals. Crickets contain about 65% protein, and other insects can contain up to 80% protein. Astonishingly, some insects have the same or greater amount of iron than beef.
Crickets are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids. They also have omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and are high in calcium and vitamin B12.
3. Crickets are environmentally sustainable.
Our current animal agriculture industry is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Our planet is heating up from Cow farts. I joke, but it's not a joke. On top of that, Water Foot Print tells us that cows use 15400 Liters of Water for 1 kg of beef. That is mostly from the water required to grow the crops for the cows. Agriculture currently accounts for 38.6 percent of human modified land. It's just not sustainable as our population grows. The way things are going right now, 2050 looks like a pretty grim future.
Crickets and other insects are an alternative to animal protein and could be a sustainable way to reduce the effects of global warming. Insects have a tiny ecological footprint as they emit much less greenhouse gases, require little water, and less feed per pound than any other animal protein.
4. Crickets are very versatile.
Crickets have a subtle flavour, which some describe as nutty, or even tasting like popcorn. They can be found in a variety of forms. The most accessible form to newly found insectivores is as a flour. Cricket flour is essentially ground crickets and a few tablespoons can provide nutritional benefits to any meal. Cricket flour can be added to smoothies, baking, sauces, and just about anything.
You can find my recipe for tasty Cricket energy bars right here. For the more daring, consuming whole roasted crickets will reap many benefits as well. They can be eaten whole as a snack, coated in chocolate, or sprinkled with your favourite seasoning blend. You can even add them to your favourite meals - throw them into fried rice or add them to your tacos.
5. Crickets can help feed a growing population.
The population of the world is estimated to reach 9 billion in 2050. That's a number the world cannot currently sustain. Crickets can add a cheap, efficient source of nutrition to diets that may be lacking in protein and iron, thus helping to address protein deficiencies in developing worlds. Their high iron content can help diminish one of the world's most common nutritional ailments, iron deficiency anemia.
Not only do crickets add nutrition, they can provide livelihoods for those in developing countries. Insect farms can be small-scale, highly productive, and relatively inexpensive. Getting over the "ick" factor of eating crickets and other insects may seem like a large hurdle, but the benefits you gain in taste, nutrition, and that whole "saving the world" thing outweighs any preconceptions you have.