There is probably a long list regarding the eating of insects but I’m going to give you the five best reasons. I’ve done a fair amount of research on the subject of entomophagy (eating insects) and my study keeps bringing me back to a number of core values that have become the foundation of understanding for me on the subject.
The criteria I used to come up with this list involves logic, common sense and practicality. I mean really, if you don’t normally eat insects you are going to need some practical and logical reason to do so in order to justify chewing on a deep-fried cricket over fried chicken. So, in no particular order, here are my five best reasons for eating insects.
Reason #1 – Protein Value
In an effort to avoid getting too scientific here let me say that we all need protein in our body. It’s that stuff that makes all kinds of other stuff happen inside us and without it we sort of just fizzle out. Typical sources of this magical body enhancing stuff are pork, beef, chicken and fish. If you don’t eat meat you can still get protein from eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk and soy milk. If you don’t eat meat or dairy you can still get it from tofu, beans, nuts and seeds. Insects, although not vegetarian fare, are a high source of protein when measured against traditional sources, such as meats. Crickets and mealworms, in particular score high on the protein chart.
Reason #2 – Nutrient Value
Nutrients are substances that provide us with either energy or support metabolism. Both of these purposes are essential to human health. Proteins are part of the requirement but a variety of other nutrients are also needed by our bodies daily in order to function – even if all you do for the day is chilax on the couch. Crickets provide high levels of many nutrients including calcium (75.8 grams per 100 grams of crickets), Iron 9.5 grams/100 grams, Fibre 3.0 grams/100 grams, plus vitamins. Beef has only 1.0 gram of iron in 100 grams of meat.
Reason #3 – Low Environmental Impact
Beef takes 10-kilograms of feed to produce 1-kilogram of edible meat and 25-kilograms of feed per kilogram of live weight. Plus, you can only eat 40-percent of the cow. In comparison crickets consume 2-kilograms of feed per kilogram of edible weight and just over a kilogram of feed for a kilogram of live weight. Additionally, you can eat 80-percent of the cricket. Then there’s space required for each crop. Cattle need far more space that crickets. You can operate an efficient cricket farm in a closet where you’d need at least a barn to raise a few head of cattle. This brings us to the halfway point of my five best reasons for eating insects.
Reason #4 – Variety and Taste
Although there are less than one hundred different breeds of cattle, there are over three hundred species of insects. Cattle can only be raised in certain parts of the world and typically not in urban areas (I know, that’s obvious, but I’m going somewhere with this). Insects exist almost everywhere and although disappear during colder months of the year, you can farm insects in your home all year round. Then there’s the taste. Beef is well, meat. By itself it’s fine but meat is usually prepared with many other ingredients to enhance the flavour. However, soaking it in barbecue sauce only makes the meat taste like meat soaked in barbecue sauce. Crickets and mealworms have a naturally nutty taste and flavour similar to chicken or shrimp. Feeding them certain foods in a ‘flavouring phase’ will cause crickets and mealworms to taste like what you flavoured them with. For example, feeding them apples and cinnamon produces an apples and cinnamon flavour. Now for the last of my five best reasons for eating insects.
Reason #5 – Variety of Preparation
Meats and insects can be eaten in a number of different types of dishes. This includes pan-fried, roasted, boiled, baked and sautéed. Where insects are superior than meats and other traditional forms of protein are the additional ways they can be prepared for food. Insects can be ground into flour and baked into cookies and breads. The flour can be used in crackers and various other flour-based items such as wraps, shells and pastas. The flour can also be used in protein bars, mixed in protein drinks in powder form and sprinkled over other meals as a protein powder. Good luck making a piece of meat do that.
There you have it, my five best reasons for eating insects. As I’ve stated before, depending on what source you reference, you will very likely find longer lists or possibly you’ll be able to add a couple of your own choices to my five best reasons list. The bottom line here is that you no longer have to rely on meats, fish or poultry for your main sources of proteins or nutrients. Eating insects is an activity that dates back thousands of years but is only starting to become more common in North America. They are a healthy, sustainable choice and you don’t need my list of five best reasons to enjoy them.