The use of insects as foods around the world
Insects have been eaten in different parts of the world for thousands of years. Various species of insects are an important source of protein especially in East and Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), today insects are a part of the diet for over 2 billion people. FAO estimates that there are about 1900 edible species of insects in the world.
Even though in the West insects have not traditionally been considered as a natural part of the human diet, attitudes are changing and the interest towards insect foods is growing. As the world’s population continues to grow and the climate change advances, new solutions are needed to secure sustainable food production for everyone.
Insect food is ecological and nutritious
Insects are ecological to grow and they have excellent nutritional values. Insects contain a lot of protein, good fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fibers. About 50 % of the weight of dried insects is protein on average, though the exact amount varies a lot depending on the species and the developmental phase of the insect. Insects are an excellent component of protein powder and a good nutritional supplement for an active person. Insects also have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and D and vitamin B12 which cannot be obtained from a plant-based diet.
There is also no need to worry about the taste of insects: it is quite mild and some would say that it has a nutty, or even chicken-like flavour. Many insect products are also available as seasoned versions.
The growing of insects causes considerably less strain on the environment compared to meat production or even plant proteins. They emit much less greenhouse gasses and ammonia and their growing requires much less space, water and feed. It is also relatively easy to combine the growing of insects to other types of farming and for example the byproducts of farming can be utilized as the feed for insects.
Read more about insect foods on our blog: Insect food – the answer to the challenges of today’s food production?