Edible Insects, A Future Source Of Food?
Have you ever comprehended the fact or possibility of insects being a source of food? Did you flinch as you read this? Be ready to get your mind blown because this is very much happening right now as you are reading this article.
Why even consider this?
Our world population will reach over a whopping 9 billion by the year 2050. With more people, there are going to be more mouths to feed which is why the food requirement will only double what it currently is. To add to this the biggest global crisis ‘global warming is causing the gradual decrease of food production worldwide. To have a plan on how to deal with a situation wherein the food shortage will increase to an alarming level, a lot of food alternatives are being proposed. One of the most popular alternates being insects. To be fair, this is already occurring in several parts of the world and has even been consumed since historic times, however getting the entire global population to look at it as a food alternative is going to be a task.
What kind of insects are considered?
As per a research by Stallion Market Research It is estimated that for over 1.7 billion people, insects do form a part of their traditional diets. There are reportedly over 1900 species of insects that have been used as a source of food. Edible insects are usually roasted, dried, and powdered which is further formed into high protein and low-calorie flour. The insects that are mostly consumed and used are beetles (Coleoptera) (~30%), caterpillars (Lepidoptera) (~20%),bees, wasps and ants (Hymenoptera) (~15%), grasshoppers, locusts and crickets(Orthoptera)(~11%) cicadas, leafhoppers, planthoppers, scale insects and true bugs (Hemiptera) (~10%), termites (Isoptera) (~3%), dragonflies (Odonata) (~3%), flies (Diptera) (~2%) and other orders (~6%). These powders are then used to prepare snacks such as low-calorie energy bars. While this might come across as a big number, this insect consumption is only restricted to countries like Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Mention this to western countries and you will be met with looks of terror and absolute disgust.
Do insects have nutritional values?
One of the reasons insects are even considered as a food alternative is because of it being more nutrient efficient in comparison with other meats. As per healthcare research reports, insects contain dietary fiber and include unsaturated fat. They also contain vitamins such as B12, riboflavin and Vitamin A, and essential minerals.
Market and future
The edible insect market is set to provide many opportunities for new entrants to enter the market and scope for increasing the market share for existing vendors. As per Stallion Market research, the edible insects’ market is expected to grow at an annual compound rate of 25% from the year 2020 to 2030. It is said that the increasing demand for high protein, economical, and low-fat food sources for dietary needs is what will stimulate the market outlook.
It is amazing how major companies are going out of their way to find alternatives that no one could have even considered. While there are a couple of concerns raised as well towards the authenticity of this alternative. There is no denying that this might just become an actual food source in the distant future based on the already existing evidence of food shortage and excessive population. It will take time for something as creepy and crawly as this to get accepted, but if the situation worsens, as they say, “desperate times call for desperate measures”. However, until that point, let us perhaps play cricket instead of eating it.
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