Grubby Grub

Kelman, Ilan | October 25, 2016 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Grasshoppers, termites, locusts, weevils, and caterpillars. They can cause problems for crops. They can also support food sustainability as sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Eating local insects can be an environmentally friendly, easy, cheap way of improving nutrition for everyone. Insects can also be farmed locally, year-round, and organically. Insect farms generate fulfilling jobs, cut down on the fuel cost of food transportation, and save land, water, waste, and energy compared to farming other animals.

Insect granola. Photo by Ilan Kelman
Insect granola. Photo by Ilan Kelman

Cooked insects can be used whole. They substitute for croutons in salads or, useful for people with allergies, nuts in baked goods.

Would everyone eat insects? For those who scuttle back at the thought of crunching fried larvae or picking wings off roasted critters, new products are on the market.

 

Grow ’em, roast ’em, grind ’em: insect powder is available. Think of it as gluten-free protein-rich flour.

Selling crickets and cricket powder for cooking. Photo by Ilan Kelman
Selling crickets and cricket powder for cooking. Photo by Ilan Kelman

 

Recipes abound using insect flour for muffins, granola, cereal, snack bars, and rolls. Concoctions include Chocolate Espresso Banana Bread with Cricket Flours and Sunrise Smoothie with Mealworm Powder.

As always, cautions are warranted because few approaches are a panacea. Little is known about possible allergic reactions. The industry is not well-regulated. Could mass production and consumption lead to harmful effects? Insects in the wild can be toxic or accumulate pesticides.

We might not fly immediately to the six-legged chef. We should consider how insects can contribute to sustainable food and nutrition.


Ilan Kelman is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London. You can follow him on Twitter @IlanKelman.


MAHB-UTS Blogs are a joint venture between the University of Technology Sydney and the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org.

MAHB Blog: http://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/grubby-grub/

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Jarrod Goldin

    Wow – thanks for including a picture of our cricket products here! You’re
    right to raise questions given the newness of this industry. But it’s come a
    long way in the last couple of years too. So we thought we’d share where
    we are at on the areas of concern you raised:

    Regulation – our farm is subject to the same health and safety regulations as any other
    animal farm. We’ve been inspected by Health Canada and the CFIA (similar to the
    USDA) several times. Also, our processing facility is regularly inspected by our local health unit and we have always “passed” with flying colors and receive great comments from the inspectors.

    Allergens- Broader testing is still needed, but we’ve already tested for the most common
    shellfish allergen and it is negative for our roasted cricket powder.

    Wild harvesting isn’t legal for insects that are being sold as food for people.

    Mass production – insects have been mass produced for years in Asia and we haven’t
    seen any evidence to date of ill effects. Our process uses no additives,
    preservatives, or any other processing solutions. We raise the crickets
    on feed approved for agriculture and livestock (and organic certified), and then we simply
    roast them and grind them. Nothing added or taken away.

    Nutrition – More in depth studies are coming, but basic nutritional analyses from
    reputable labs point out that roasted cricket products like those shown here
    are about 60% protein and provide a significant amount of Vitamin B-12 (not
    found in plant proteins) along with prebiotic fiber (not found in most animal
    proteins) along with calcium, iron, and many other healthy nutrients.

    Plus of course, they taste good, with a nutty roasted flavour that goes well with
    many familiar foods.

    Thank you to you and your readers for your interest in including insects in the growing movement for healthy, sustainable food.

    feel free to be in touch with any questions.

    Jarrod – jarrod@entomofarms.com