Bettering relationships with bugs contains an open thoughts to an insect-inclusive food regimen

Insects play a key role in balancing ecosystems and also serve as a source of protein in the diets of two billion people worldwide. Rural areas in particular can benefit significantly from an insect-inclusive diet.

Gina Hunter, professor and director of the Office of Student Research at Illinois State University, said insects are more environmentally friendly than eating beef for protein.

“Beef production requires a lot of land. It produces a lot of greenhouse gases and requires a lot of water. It’s very polluting, ”said Hunter. “Eating cricket protein is more sustainable than beef, but generally it’s no more efficient than chicken. Now we’re scaling up to be able to produce more insects in some really highly industrialized environments. If you care about the environment, eat plants. That is the most sustainable diet. “

Hunter is the author of a new book, Edible Insects: A Global History, which not only addresses the historical role of insects as human food, but also their contribution to sustainable future food systems.

Hunter said the insect industry is working to make insect consumption more sustainable through many renovations, including better access to the black soldier fly. The black soldier fly is used to process organic waste such as grain from beer production.

“We have a waste problem and they are consuming it. The black soldier larvae are very real eaters, and they themselves are very nutritious and made into animal feed, ”said Hunter. “So that really promises to be a much more environmentally friendly and solution-oriented food. As far as the protein source for human consumption is concerned, we have not yet reached our goal. “

While insect consumption is becoming an increasingly popular protein option and showing promise, many are against it.

1 from 3
– mealworms

Mealworms in tomato soup.

2 from 3
– Japanese beetles

Hunter collected these Japanese bugs and froze them, boiled them, marinated them in soy sauce and herbs, and finally dehydrated them until they were crispy to eat.

3 from 3
– Red maguey worms

Hunter ate red maguey worms on tortillas, a popular dish in Oaxaca, Mexico, while traveling to Mexico to research “edible insects”. These red maguey worms are at the caterpillar stage of a moth and can be found in mezcal bottles.

Hunter ate red maguey worms on tortillas, a popular dish in Oaxaca, Mexico, while traveling to Mexico to research “edible insects”. These red maguey worms are at the caterpillar stage of a moth and can be found in mezcal bottles.

Hunter said the idea of ​​consuming insects had been removed from the norms of many cultures because it was viewed as primitive or backward. For Hunter, she believes that insect consumption has the potential to become more popular and seen in a more positive light if people are educated about consumption methods from a young age.

“Insect food advocates often start with children. There is a great deal of resistance among adults and that is being learned. We learn that bugs are nothing to eat, so we don’t usually eat them, ”said Hunter. “I think it has a place in our food system, but I think if there’s a reason to eat insects, it’s because it changes your relationship with bugs.”

Hunter said that eating insects allows people to become more curious and open their eyes to a more diverse diet. Additionally, it enables people like Hunter to better appreciate the impact insects have on the planet and have a better overall relationship with insects.

“The more I learned, the more curious I was about her. Instead of running away as soon as something is buzzing around you, just stop and look, ”said Hunter. “I think just curiosity and trying things out, not just by going out and picking up a few bugs in my garden, I really don’t recommend that to anyone; You have to know what you are doing. But following people who like to find and prepare insects and try the products on the market is a great way to get into the world of insect eating. “

Hunter’s new book, Edible Insects: A Global Story, is part of the edible book series. It can be purchased through the University of Chicago Press.

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