Humans have been consuming insects since the dawn of time – age-old traces of entomophagy (the fact of eating insects) have been found on several continents. And yet, insects are far from being part of contemporary dietary habits. I remember very clearly the reaction of the first visitors, in 1993, when Insect Tastings started. Our bug-based morsels produced more shudders than anything else. But little by little I’ve seen people’s thinking evolve. Their minds have gradually opened up to exploring this nutritional pathway. Since the end of this event, not a week’s gone by that someone doesn’t ask us where to find insects to munch on.
The United Nations weighs in
It took the report of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations to wake up the West and kindle gastronomic and economic interest in the consumption of insects. As it happens, it’s only in European and North American cultures where entomophagy is unusual.
Released in 2015, that report notes the challenges lying in wait to feed the nine billion people that will be inhabiting the planet by 2050. The production of food will have to double in a context where arable land grows increasingly scarce, where the oceans suffer from overfishing, where the production of industrial waste is growing and where climate change is giving rise to considerable uncertainty.
The document suggested we reconsider our way of feeding ourselves by adding insects to the menu, and hoped to attract the attention of different actors in society, such as the media, farmers, citizens, food industries and others. As far as that goes, the goal would seem to have been reached.
An emerging economy
For a few years it hasn’t been uncommon in the media to see dynamic young entrepreneurs talking up the benefits of entomophagy. Their products range from energy bars for athletes to pet food by way of biscuits made with cricket flour. And in fact, insect production has many advantages. Raising insects requires not much space, offers an animal protein conversion rate second to none, needs less water, and emits very little greenhouse gas.
Innovation and enjoyment
But more importantly, insect-based dishes, provided you’re ready for the new experience, make it possible to discover new flavors and offer infinite possibilities for creating nutritious and delicious meals. So why not go for it?