- As per UN, edible insects fight hunger, boost nutrition and reduce pollution.
- Entomophagy is the consumption of insects as food. Insects are eaten by many animals, but the term is generally used to refer to human consumption of insects; animals that eat insects are known as insectivores. There are also some species of carnivorous plants that derive nutrients from insects. Over 1,000 species of insects are known to be eaten in 80% of the world’s nations.
- Some of the more popular insects and arachnids eaten around the world include crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, various beetle grubs (such as meal worms), the larvae of the darkling beetle or rhinoceros beetle, various species of caterpillar (such as bamboo worms, mopani worms, silkworms and waxworms), scorpions and tarantulas. Entomophagy is sometimes defined broadly to include the practice of eating arthropods that are not insects, such as arachnids (tarantulas mainly) and myriapods (centipedes mainly). There are 1,417 known species of arthropods, including arachnids that are edible to humans. The term is not used for the consumption of other arthropods, specifically crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimps
- In practice, it is not possible to eliminate pest insects from the human food chain. Insects are present in many foods, especially grains. Food laws in many countries do not prohibit insect parts in food, but rather, they limit the quantity. People in rice-eating regions, for example, typically ingest significant numbers of rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae) larvae, and this has been suggested as an important source of vitamins. The Food and Agricultural Organisation specifies in the Codex Alimentarius standard for wheat (Codex Standard 152-1985 : Codex Standard for Wheat Flour) that : wheat flour shall be free from filth (impurities of animal origin, including dead insects) in amounts which may represent a hazard to human health. Contamination on the average of less than 150 insect fragments per 100 grams of wheat flour poses no health hazard.
- As per US FDA likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world are an underutilized food for people, livestock and pets.
- About 2 billion people worldwide already have supplemented their diets with insects, which are high in protein and minerals, and have environmental benefits.
- Insects are ‘extremely efficient’ in converting feed into edible meat. On average, they can convert 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of feed into 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of insect mass. In comparison, cattle require 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of feed to produce a kilo of meat.
- Most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed.
- Currently, most edible insects are gathered in forests and what insect farming does take place is often family-run and serves niche markets.
- Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly.
- They provide high-quality protein and nutrients when compared with meat and fish.
- Insects can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and are a source of fiber.
- The Edible Insect Program is also examining the potential of arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions, although they are not strictly speaking insects.
- Some of them, such as certain beetles, ants, crickets and grasshoppers, come close to lean red meat or broiled fish in terms of protein per gram (ounce).
- Some caterpillars in southern Africa and weaver ant eggs in South east Asia are considered delicacies and command high prices. (Source: TOI)
Thursday, May 16, 2013