22 Oct A Buggy Diet
Do you ever eat insects? The majority (80 %) of the world population does. In western society eating insects is very uncommon, but we do depend on these little creatures a lot. They pollinate a third of our crops for free, and at the same time prevent outbreaks of pests! Reason enough to have a look at some of the benefits of a buggy diet.
In South-East Asia cooked insects are considered delicacies. Their insect menu is much more varied than our mammal and fish menus. Around the world more than 1000 insect species are eaten while our supermarkets only sell a few dozen animal species. Insect meat is also of good quality with a nutritional value comparable to beef and pork.
However, what a lot of people don’t know, is that insects are already widely used in food processing. For example Dutch pink cookies (roze koeken) and a lot of other pink and red colored foods are dyed with carmine. Carmine is a pigment that is harvested from lice.
With an exponentially growing world population, our food production is also growing exponentially. This comes with several complications, such as viruses that can affect human health. Livestock, like pigs, are genetically quite similar to humans. We can even transplant pig organs into a human body. Unfortunately, this also means a pig virus can easily recombine with a human virus. This has often happened with classical swine fever outbreaks all around the world.
One of the benefits of eating insects rather than beef or pork is that this complication does not occur. Because insects are far more distantly related to us, human and insect viruses do not recombine.
Feed Conversion Ratio
Insect food production has even more advantages. Like the feed conversion ratio (FCR).
Cold-blooded insects are much more efficient in converting feed into protein, compared to warm-blooded livestock. This also implies that insect food production results in much less manure and puts a smaller strain on the environment. Moreover this waste is less environmentally harmful, because it contains less ammonia and fewer greenhouse gases compared to cattle manure.
Are you excited already to try out some insect food? I heard they sell insect burgers at the Jumbo supermarket and you can buy fried crickets at the Dappermarkt, close to Science Park. And if you really want to get started: last year this insect cook book was published.
Let me know in the comments if you ever tried an insect snack!