WRITTEN BY SOVINA TANEJA
Potatoes, sushi, lobster and insects all have something in common.
Try to spot the similarity in the image below!
Did you figure it out?
It's a tale as old as time, true as it can be, bittersweet and strange, Beauty and the Beast situation. In this case, all of the abovementioned treats used to be considered quite...beastly.
Sushi wasn't originally created to be plated on a matte black plate with a swish of avocado mayo rather as a means of preserving the protein so that there was enough food for the village peoples. Similarly, lobster was never considered classy or bougie as millennials say - they called the poor crustaceans the cockroaches or even garbage of the sea.
It gets worse. As a big kartoffel (Translation: Potato) fan, I was shocked to hear that kings deemed potatoes unworthy because of their ugly exterior. Apparently, the French parliament went as far as banning them back in 1748. A tuber that is now loved & celebrated by many in the form of the might frenchfry was once judged, disregarded and ill treated because of how it looked.
Then why are we acting so medieval when it comes to insects? What are these double standards?
Learn more about Food, Culture and the History of Insects in Lesson 1 of our curriculum
Insects can save the world
Insects can actually fix 3 of the world's most pressing issues - from reducing food waste to conserving natural resources and fertilizing our soil, insects are the underdogs we didn't know we needed.
To put things into perspective, producing 1 kg of beef requires around 10 kgs worth of food whereas mealworms require 2.2 kg or less, which can easily come from waste streams or kitchen scraps.
Follow us on instagram for more educational posts
We’ve expanded on the environmental benefits of insects in our previous blog, so give it a read if you’d like to know more.
Insects = Nutrition Nuggets
Not only are insects the key to pressing environmental issues, they are equally beneficial to human nutrition. It's as easy as googling: “What are the Health Benefits of insects” and stumbling upon article after article detailing exactly what it is that insects can bring to the table.
Insects have important vitamins, such as B12 - which can’t be made by our bodies and therefore typically derived from animal origins. Vitamin B12 is useful for our DNA and red blood cells and Harvard Medical School confirms that a deficiency in this vitamin is often something we don’t even realise we are facing. You’re in luck because our friends at Entomo Farms have reminded us that ground 100g of cricket powder can have up to 24 micrograms of B12.
Alongside B12, the major nutrient that insects are known for is...you guessed it, protein! Edible insects can have protein content ranging from 35-60% depending on the type of insect we're talking about. This means that they have more protein per 100g than the commonly sought out protein sources: meat, fish and eggs. Aphids and pond-skaters seem to take the crown with roughly 50-75g of protein while crickets, the more widely known bug, can have between 25-65g. Protein is an important macronutrient for our body - they are the building blocks of our whole system. Every cell in our body has protein and it aids in our growth, development and even repair.
What can deliver a higher iron content in the human body: Edible Insects or Sirloin Beef? If you thought Beef, scroll up and read this blog again. The iron in edible insects is actually more efficiently absorbed by the human digestive system compared to beef.
Insects are also incredibly good sources of fiber, important for our heart health and gut health. We all have chitinases and they prove that we were literally made to eat insects. Chitin is that tough polysaccharide which makes up the exoskeleton of arthropods (which includes insects of course). And it’s not just you - almost all primates can eat and digest insects thanks to the chitinase enzymes.
© Michela Dai Zovi
Insects are squeaky clean
If you won't take it from us, take it from the authorities. The latest regulation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) deemed mealworms safe for human consumption, having them join crickets, grasshoppers and locusts.
Read the Livin Farms Post EFSA Press Release here
In fact, Nicole Sartirani from MikroKosmos Berlin says it best, "I know insects come from the ground, but they are less dirty compared to pigs and cows." We often tend to forget that livestock has been pumped with so many antibiotics that leach into our diets and affect our biological makeup, and the future effects of many of these chemicals remain uncertain.
Even as a natural instinct, grasshoppers are skeptical in their search of food. They don't eat whatever is on the ground but are very picky, only eating the healthiest, most delicious species of plants.
With all of this being said, you don't need to rush to grab worms out of your backyard - this is just your conversation starter to ensure that more and more countries work on building regulations to offer you safe and certified insects for your consumption.
How to get started
Honestly, many of us don't come from a background of liking, enjoying or eating insects so taking the first steps is naturally going to be difficult for us.
Nicole stumbled into this world, without knowing much about insects and lacking scientific knowledge. Contradictory to her growing up as a daughter of a pest control worker, she grew to learn about these amazing creatures and incorporate them into her dishes as a chef - “there is no limits for insects in the kitchen”
Check out these insect delights curated by the Mikrokosmos team
It is understandable that taking the first step may be difficult, but you don’t have to dive into the deep end just yet! It is easy to incorporate insects into your diet as an additional ingredient in your meals. If you do not want to try them whole, you can always crush them and mix them into your flour, or even add it as a crunchy topping on your pizza!
The best thing about insects, is that they have neutral and nutty flavor - allowing you to customize the taste that suits you best. Afraid to eat a full portion first? why not try to make something that can be had in a single bite - like a sushi or canapé.
“One bite: nothing too big, nothing too small. One bite: just approach it.”
A few tips for you:
Try an insect, maybe a cricket: they are the gateway bug into insect eating
Get started on your insect farming journey at home. You can start small with the Hive Explorer. To get you off on the right food, we are gifting you 30 USD on your purchase, simply use MISPLACEDFRIENDS at checkout.
Start looking for certified insect farmers near you.
- Check out Mikrokosmos Berlin for Insect recipes!