Although edible insects are considered the superfood of the future, there are still many people who are afraid to try this trend. There are a number of theories as to why people from Western cultures so often turn away from the idea of eating insects.
Edible insects are a great source of healthy fats, protein, minerals and important vitamins. Even the United Nations has issued a statement endorsing the trend of increasing global insect consumption. In its statement, it highlighted, in particular, the ecological ease with which it can be produced for food purposes and the positive environmental benefits that this brings. Insects produce far fewer greenhouse gases than livestock, even though they are a common animal protein such as beef or pork. Despite this fact, many Western cultures are wary of insect consumption and have many unfounded prejudices against it.
Entomophagy - human consumption of insects
For humans, eating insects is nothing new. This phenomenon has been known for thousands of years and has a widespread tradition, especially in countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Zambia and Cameroon. Worldwide, popular species for consumption include beetles and their larvae, grasshoppers, butterflies, as well as wasps and their larvae. It is also interesting to note that the taste of some edible insects can resemble that of crustaceans, such as the very popular shrimps and lobsters.
Why we don't eat more insects
There are a number of theories as to why people from Western cultures so often turn away from the idea of eating insects. One theory suggests that the reasons for this prejudice go back to the Ice Age. Because of the cold climate in the north, neither Europe nor North America is home to many edible insects, which are not very large in size. Therefore, neither European cultures, nor the settlers in North America, established a culinary tradition that included insects in the normal daily diet.
Related to this is the common misconception and prejudice that insects are poisonous, disgusting or dirty. In reality, however, the opposite is true. Bacteria causing disease and infection transmitted by insects to humans are generally considered to be less of a threat than, for example, bacteria transmitted by pigs and cattle, because of the genetic differences between insects and humans. Thus, it is very unlikely that a disease affecting insects would infect humans after consumption. In addition, farmers take strict biosecurity measures to ensure that insects are not contaminated by external factors such as moisture, soil or livestock.
There is therefore nothing to worry about. Stop your preconceptions and be sure to try some of the insect delicacies. You'll be saving the environment and who knows, you might just find your new favourite food!