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Why Insects

Scroll down for blogs on why insects are good for the environment and for your health and other facts! 

The 4 most significant reasons why insects are good for you

Malena Sigur

It is no coincidence that more than 2 billion people around the world eat insects on a daily basis, they are the most powerful superfood out there. Insects are tasty and they have remarkable nutritional value. Here are the 4 most significant reasons you should be eating insects for your health.

1.   Protein rich

Insect are packed with protein and contain all nine essential amino acids. This qualifies insects to be a complete protein source like meat. We all need amino acids to build proteins, which is used to build muscles, tissue and cells. Scientists have discovered over 50 different amino acids, but only 20 of them make proteins in the human body. Nine of these 20 amino acids we have to get from our food. Edible insects are rich in essential amino acids, sometimes with more gram for gram protein than beef. Nuts and beans are also good sources of protein, but they are not a complete protein. Vegans and vegetarians also need the nine essential amino acids, so opposed to taking supplements, eating insects might be a solution. 

2. Excellent source of vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are important in order to maintain the balance and different functions in our body, such as strengthening the immune system and developing the brain. Most edible insects are rich in vitamins and minerals and especially have high levels of the B vitamins. Mealworms and crickets are among the best vitamin B12 sources, an important vitamin for developing new red blood cells and preventing dementia. As you may be aware of, the nutrient B12 can only be found in animal sources. Vitamin B12 is only available through animal protein sources. Vegans could therefore manage their B12 intake by eating a few crickets a couple of times a week. When it comes to minerals, edible insects are considered to be particularly rich in iron, zinc and calcium. In fact, some grasshoppers have over 6 times the amount of iron as beef, a mineral that women in particular often lack.

3.  High in healthy fats

Insects are in general very high in essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6. Compared to meat insects have far higher values of especially Omega-6. There is often a twisted understanding of eating fats. Everyone needs fat, but it is important to get the right types of fats. Insects contain a lot of good and important fats that you also find in fish. Omega fatty acids are necessary and good for your heart, brain and joints.  Insects are low in saturated fats compared to meat, which are fats you should avoid.

4. Insects are highly unlikely to make us sick

Compared to cattle, pigs and chicken that have on several occasions spread diseases to humans, such as mad cow disease, H5N1 and salmonella, insects are much less likely to transmit diseases to humans. Research suggests that this is because insects are taxonomically distant from humans compared to mammals. 

Chili, Chocolate and Cricket Dare Square. Will be available through Kickstarter.com March 1st, 2017. 

Chili, Chocolate and Cricket Dare Square. Will be available through Kickstarter.com March 1st, 2017. 

Want to save the planet? Eat insects!

Malena Sigur

The FAO estimates that the global population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050. Population growth puts additional stress on the global environment and accentuates the vulnerability of future food security.

With increasing urbanisation, limited resources and climate change, meeting the future demand for food – especially sources of protein – is a global challenge. Presently, most people in Western countries get their protein primarily from meat - one of the most environmentally damaging behaviours.

Go vegan? That’s a bit drastic for a lot of people, and is not necessarily the best solution for your health or the environment. We've discovered an alternative! An alternative that is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals without destroying the environment.

Edible insects are a viable solution to tackling climate change as well as the global food crisis. Here are the most important facts why we should all start eating insects to save the planet.

1.  Crickets require 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein

It is intuition that an insect consumes less than a chicken, a pig or a cow - they are tiny! However, interestingly insects actually also consume much less per unit body mass than other livestock, this is referred to as the feed conversion ratio.

The consumption of insects leads to less waste: 80% of a cricket is edible and digestible whereas this number drops to 55% for chickens and pigs, and further to only 40% for cows.

This means that crickets are twice as efficient in converting feed to food as chickens, at least four times more efficient than pigs, and a huge 12 times more efficient than cattle. One reason for this is that insects are cold-blooded and do not require feed to maintain body temperature. 

This graph shows the amount of feed required to produce 1kg of protein from crickets, chicken and beef.

2. Replacing the meat in just one meal with insects saves over 4000 litres of water!

Insects are much more water efficient than any other source of protein. If a family replaced the beef in one meal every week with insects they would save close to ONE MILLION litres of water in a year.

Amazingly insects require even less water than soya beans, and many other pulses and nuts.

Modern agriculture currently drains 70% of all our fresh water resources. Water has already become a scare resource in many parts of the world, and it is estimated that by 2025 64% of the global population is expected to live in water-stressed basins. The increasing demands placed on the global water supply threaten biodiversity, food production and other vital human and environmental requirements.  

Water required to produce 1kg of food from crickets, chickens and beef, respectively: 

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3. Insect production produces 100 times less greenhouse gas emissions than beef cattle.

Livestock rearing is accountable for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, that is a higher share than the entire transport sector. In addition to lower greenhouse gas emissions, insects also compare favourably to other livestock in ammonia emissions (commonly known as urine and manure), which often contributes to environmental pollution such as nitrification and soil acidification.

4. No Food Waste           

Another environmental benefit of insects as an alternative to livestock as a protein source is that they are able to eat almost anything and can therefore be reared sustainably on organic side streams, such as compost and organic kitchen waste (for example vegetable and fruit peel and stems). There is huge potential for insects to convert billions of tonnes of bio waste every year into feed and thereby food. Substituting conventional feed with cheaper organic side streams can also make insect farming more profitable.

Many insect species taste of what they eat, gastronomically giving numerous opportunities for developing different and exciting tastes from organic waste foods such as coffee grounds and orange peel.

5. No antibiotics!

We pump huge amounts of antibiotics and hormones into our livestock to keep them healthy and grow fat fast, in the United States livestock account for 50% of all antibiotic use. On the scale of current use this makes the meat unhealthy for consumption and risks the development of resistant strains of bacteria.

Edible insects do not need antibiotics or hormones for many reasons. Insects are evolutionarily very separate species from humans and therefore their pathogens are often not readily transferrable to humans, and insects bodies are also much less complex systems than humans or livestock, they therefore do not suffer from illness or react to hormones in the same way. The insects we use are certified and under strict regulations for safety and animal welfare, and no pesticides or antibiotics are used at any time.

6. No Pesticides! 

Annually we deposit over 2 million tonnes of pesticides across the Earth in an attempt to control insects, unwanted weeds, rodents and bacteria from threatening our food supplies.

Although the use of such pesticides has some agricultural advantages such as the eradication of certain species posing a threat to crops, these few advantages are made negligible when compared with the disadvantages faced by the environment and humans. Traditional and organic methods of pest-control in agriculture include using certain types of insects as crop-protectors and guarding the farmers’ crops from unwanted invasive species. One such farmer friendly insect is the ant, historically used in Chinese orange orchards to protect the trees from other unwanted pests. Interestingly, escamoles (ant larvae and eggs) also happen to be a Mexican delicacy due to their buttery and nutty taste!

Insects could therefore be more than simply our future food source but also simultaneously a solution to our pesticide epidemic.