New research has addressed the issue of whether humans should be consuming edible insects, as an alternative to meat, as a sustainable nutritious source of iron-rich protein (1).
The study by researchers and scientists at China's Ningbo University and King's College London investigated the nutritional content of grasshoppers, crickets and other insects. The results revealed higher iron levels in crickets than the other insects analysed.
Another significant result was that calcium, copper and zinc are considered to be more easily absorbed by humans through eating these particular edible insects - as well as grasshoppers and mealworms - than if those same nutrients where obtained by consuming beef.
Commenting on the study, Dr Yemisi Latunde-Dada (pictured below), lecturer at the Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine at King's College, London, told FoodIngredientsFirst: "The study suggests that commonly consumed insect species could be an excellent source of bioavailable iron and could provide for an alternative strategy for increased mineral intake in the diets of humans,"
Currently 80% of countries around the world are known to eat insects - a practice which is known as entomophagy (derived from the Greek words for 'insect' and 'to eat'). For example, in southern Mexico, grasshoppers are known as chapulines and are eaten in a variety of dishes, and, in some Chinese food markets, these bugs are sold served on skewers.
In the UK, we are likely to be a long way from seeing edible insects widely for sale on the shelves of our local supermarkets. Food industry watchers believe that the way to start to break our nation's current general distaste at the thought of eating bugs is to market this new wave of sustainable and seemingly nutritious eating trend to 'foodies', who are often keen to try new culinary experiences ahead of the majority of the public.
The question is would you eat insects if they were readily available to buy?