Top 5 Most Popular Edible Insects

With growing population which is predicted to be 9 billion by 2050, food scarcity is going to be a major concern. Although the consumption of different insects by humans is not a new thing (because many tribes across the globe are eating them for centuries) commercial farming of insects is definitely new. Edible insects or insects as food may sound ridiculous to many people but you should know that Edible insects are not just rich in high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids but consuming them as a protein source can be a great option to tackle some global issues like increasing greenhouse gas emission, water scarcity, farming land scarcity, biodiversity loss etc. About 26% of the total greenhouse emissions come from food system because the way we produce our foods is not sustainable. Many food scientists call these edible insects as Sustainable Superfood. The insects are eaten as whole or used as an ingredient in powder form in processed foods like burger patties, pasta, protein bars, etc.

Why Edible Insects?

( Source: FAO)

  • Insects have a high food conversion rate, e.g. crickets require six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein.
  • Insects emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock
  • Insects can be grown on organic waste

Did you know that

  • Two billion people already eat insects
  • Insects are considered nutritionally healthier than red meat

Although more than 1900 edible insect species have been identified across the world I’ve listed only the species which are commercially produced

1. Crickets (Acheta domesticus)

Fried crickets
  • Crickets are one of the best sources of protein on the planet. They’re a nutritionally-balanced, delicious treat packed full of fuel 
  • Crickets are one of the best sources of protein on the planet. They’re a nutritionally-balanced, delicious treat packed full of fuel 
  • Cricket farming is environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
  • Crickets use significantly less water, they produce practically no methane gas, and they require less food and land than other traditional protein sources.
Energy bar made with cricket protein. Source- /https://exoprotein.com/

2. Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor)

3. Buffalo worms (Alphitobius diaperinus)

Commercially available Ready to cook buffalo worm

4. Grasshoppers (Caelifera)

5. Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria)

Safety concern

Food allergens are basically proteins and many people may be allergic to edible insects just like to many other food proteins. The proteins that insects contain are similar to the proteins of e.g. crustaceans and mollusks. Thus people who are allergic to prawns, for example, may have an allergic reaction from insect food. 

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