Nutritional Benefits of Eating Insects

It’s a waiting game now. We’ve got our second fully fledged adult locust, and hopefully more will mature over the next few days. Annoyingly the current adult locusts are the same sex (I’m still thinking they’re female from the diagrams I’ve looked at online) so I  haven’t yet altered the set up in the tank to allow for egg-laying.

Friends appear equally fascinated and horrified by the fact I’m raising locusts at home to eat, but luckily my wife Caley is 100% committed to the experiment. She’s eaten bugs before, in Thailand and Mexico and says they’re best when crunchy.

I have to admit, these fried snacks don’t look too bad:

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(Photo taken by William Ng, shared under Creative Commons licence: http://www.flickr.com/people/williamnyk/)

I’ve been watching a couple of Ted/Tedx talks on entomophagy (links to these are listed at the end of this post), and it’s fascinating to realise that what we eat is highly subjective.  People don’t eat insects because they are lacking alternative sources of food – they eat them because insects are good food.  They taste good and are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.

The statistics are in favour of the insect diet.  For ten kilos of feed, you get just one kilo of beef, but you’d get nine kilos of locusts.  Insects take up less space and their waste doesn’t emit high levels of methane like regular livestock.

Here’s a breakdown of insect nutrition per 100 grams (locusts fall under the large grasshopper category – they’re short-horned grasshoppers):

insectnutrition

Nutrition of various insects per 100 grams

Data collected from The Food Insects Newsletter, July 1996 (Vol. 9, No. 2, ed. by Florence V. Dunkel, Montana State University) and Bugs In the System, by May Berenbaum

100 grams of grasshoppers has more calcium than a cup of broccoli, and about half your daily iron needs (they’re higher in iron than beef).

I’m going to try and find more information on the protein profile of grasshoppers (from what I’ve found so far it’s high quality protein, but it’d help to have a full breakdown).  And in the interim I’m going to wait impatiently for my locusts to get ready for the frying pan…

If you’re keen to watch some Ted and Tedx talks on this subject I’d suggest Marcel DickeFlorence Dunkel, David Gracer and Arnold van Huis

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