Cricket Farming, Crickets and Protein, Entomophagy, Food Safety, The Environment, Uncategorized

Four Reasons to Eat Crickets starting Today

Want to know what all the fuzz about crickets is?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. And thank you, we need more people like you. There are many reasons why you should eat crickets but unfortunately, you won’t have the time needed to go through all of them. You probably have to go to work and all that.

So I thought we would at least go over ten of the reasons to why we should eat crickets starting today. 

We won’t just go through the selfish reasons. Reasons like why it’s good for your health, but also things that can benefit others around the world and the environment.

1# The environment

Of course, the environment is of massive importance an effect us all in radical ways. We now start to see the effects of global warming, not just in warmer countries, but in The US and Europe as well. With an ever-growing population on a finite planet means straining our land, our oceans, and with a growing need for energy. The fact of the matter is we need to be resourceful when it comes to the matter of water. You see, it’s said by the year 2025, not too far away, 1.8 billion people will suffer from absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world population will likely be strained.

Agriculture completely devoure our fresh water supply. Consider the fact it consumes roughly 70 percent of freshwater across the world.

That’s something to keep in mind. We also know our cars, planes, and our electricity, unless otherwise specified comes from fossil fuel. This alongside an evermore strained climate. We need, and most importantly, need to want to take steps toward combating anthropogenic greenhouse gases. While we should move away from petroleum, coal, and natural gas etc, we should also consider other factors endangering the environment.

In this instance, our food.

Food in places like Europe and North America is abundant.  I don’t think I need to start showing charts for you to believe that. One just needs to walk into a supermarket. Although the trading practices used to keep our shelves fully stacked in this part of the world is beyond evil, it’s a matter for another article. Now, one could say we are always on a hunt for protein. Everyone knows this word, and know that it’s important for our health and wellbeing. Everyone also knows that meat and fish contain protein but few know it can also be found in insects, like the cricket.

The fact is, our food contributes a lot to greenhouse gases. And, to be more precise, 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.

When meat consumption is thought to double by the year 2050 one needs to contemplate other ways of getting protein and enough of it. Basically, if we want to reduce the world greenhouse gas emissions we not only have to do something about our industry, transportation system, etc, we also need to consider the source of our food. I’m not suggesting you to start to eat crickets is the solution to all of the environmental problems we as a people are facing.

I do, however, suggest it’s a better alternative to protein when contemplating the aforementioned facts.

We shouldn’t live in a world of food insecurity but a world of food security. We could listen to what the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is saying on the matter of what sustainable diets are:

Sustainable diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.

Big Food

It’s hard for us to counter the influence of poor food, or food which aren’t very sustainable. Big food companies get government subsidies all the time. They manipulate the market through various means, tells us we need to eat their meat. If we were to look at government subsidies as a tax, a tax benefitting the few, we also need to consider one other tax. A tax which is a hidden one. The hidden tax can be found in things like rising oceans due to the melting of the ice. This, in turn, lowers the property value of your house. Needless to say, all of the damage to infrastructure caused by climate change is a hidden tax. One with compound interest, snowballing its way into the future.

Immense damage to the environment has already been done. The price tag of this hidden tax will be paid by generations to come if we don’t start making changes.

Entomophagy- A Cold-blooded Planetary Life Saver?

We need to counter this trend of ever-growing livestock production, and an alternative is necessary. If we shift the hunt for protein from meat and fish and instead focus our attention on entomophagy, we could make some change. The benefits of entomophagy, the eating of insects, lies in the insect’s high feed conversion efficiency. Meaning, how much feed is needed to produce 1 kg increase in weight.

If we take a look at the cricket we see that it needs only 2 kg of feed for every 1 kg of body weight gain.

Well then, how much feed does one require for 1 kg of non-sustainable conventional sources of livestock? The answer is:

  • 10 kg of feed is required to get one kg of beef,
  • 5 kg for pork and,
  • 2.5 kg for chicken.

Insects can also be reared on organic side streams like biowaste, including human and animal waste. It can also help the reduction of environmental contamination.

Reportedly, insects:

  • Emit fewer greenhouse gases
  • Emit less ammonia
  • Need a lot less water
  • Need a lot less land

When compared to pig and cattle rearing. Another thing most of us don’t think of is how much of said animal is edible and digestible, so let’s take a look.

It’s:

  • 55 percent for chicken,
  • 55 percent for pigs, and
  • 40 percent for cattle.

So, how much of the cricket is edible?

It’s an astonishing 80 percent.

When combining both the feed conversion efficiency with how much of said livestock is edible we get even greater news. You see the feed conversion efficiency becomes indirectly higher since the crickets estimated edible weight is up to 80 percent. Meanwhile, as mentioned before, the conventional livestock edible weight is much lower.

This means crickets are:

  • Two times as efficient in converting feed into meat,
  • Four times more efficient than pigs, and
  • 12 times more efficient than cattle.

You see the problem here? I think you do. I also think you see the solution. If we start to eat crickets starting today or other insects instead of these highly inefficient sources of protein we can make a difference. If we choose a source of protein like the cricket which is 12 times more efficient than that of cattle, I think it’s safe to say we are “going green”.

#2 Crickets contain Protein

Four Reasons to Eat Crickets starting Today
First of all, proteins are very much needed. But what are they and where can we find them? Well, protein is one of the three macronutrients, the others are carbohydrates and fat.

Proteins are long chains of amino acids. Those amino acids, in turn, consists of organic molecules.

Those Molecules are:
  • Carbon,
  • Hydrogen,
  • Oxygen,
  • Nitrogen,
  • Sometimes sulfur.
There are just around 20 amino acids and those are:
  • Alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine.

However, they can be arranged in millions of different ways. Whereby it can create millions of different proteins, each with a different structure and function in the body. The many different proteins inside a cell make each cell “do its thing”. Fun fact, in your body, there are roughly 100 trillion cells.– Of course, unless you’re a doctor or a scientist that’s completely useless for you to know. But I thought I felt smarter knowing it, so I thought I’d mention it. Hopefully, you do too now. Anyway, of these 20 amino acids, 9 are thought of as essential. This since those 9 amino acids can’t be produced by your body while the other 11 can.

The amino acids which are essential go as follows:

Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

The way to get those 9 amino acids is through your diet. The 9 amino acids, when found in food, in an adequate proportion, is called a complete protein or whole protein. One of the “one-stop shops” for complete protein is one of my favorite food, which is quinoa.

You can also find them in:

  • Red meat,
  • Poultry,
  • Fish,
  • Eggs,
  • Milk,
  • Cheese,
  • Yogurt and,
  • Soybeans.

Just remember the concept of complete protein does not necessarily mean the food with complete proteins is high in total protein. Now, I hardly ever eat fish or meat. Most of my diet consists out of an almost plant-based diet with the help of insects, mostly crickets or cricket-based products like cricket-flour. I often get the comment “you don’t get all the protein you need”, eating that kind of diet. I personally believe those are words of self-pacification. It’s easier to remove oneself from reality, do the same thing and stay unhealthy. Telling yourself your diet is fine while at the same time being overweight, and telling other people like myself what we’re doing is wrong is tragic and non-sensical. Of course, this attitude comes with enormous consequences on both our health and the environment.

You see, a protein doesn’t need to be complete. 

The protein can lack in one or more of the essential amino acids and you’ll still be fine. Just as long as you eat a protein which has the amino acids you were lacking in the other protein you’ll get all the essential amino acids. You don’t even need to eat proteins complementing each other in the same sitting, generating a complete protein. For example, plant foods don’t always come with complete proteins. But if you eat plant foods during the day, you’ll most likely end up getting all the essential amino acids needed when caloric intake requirements are met.

One of the many reasons you should start to eat crickets today is the fact that they contain protein.

I thought we would see what the “Protein quality of four indigenous edible insect species in Nigeria” study is saying on the matter. As per usual when it comes to eating crickets, or entomophagy in general for that matter, we have some good news. Let’s start with one of the sentences from the study I think you’ll like :

“The finding in this work that the selected insects are nutritious and safe for consumption may alleviate the fear of entomophagy thereby reducing the overdependence on conventional animal proteins.”

You can see it for yourself, it clearly states we don’t need to be dependent on protein coming from conventional animals.

The study tried to determine the protein quality of:

  • Moth caterpillar,
  • Termite,
  • Grasshopper, and
  • Cricket.

Once again, the cricket (Gryllus assimilis) showed us it was the real deal with the:

  • Highest amino acid score,
  • Protein efficiency ratio,
  • Net protein ratio,
  • Biological value and, 
  • Protein Digestibility.

Something very interesting to mention is the fact that the cricket contained both the essential and non-essential amino acids. This is simply further evidence of our stupidity in seeing entomophagy as a primitive source of food. Something which can provide us with a good alternative, environmentally and belly friendly protein should be looked at with bright eyes full of wonder. Not disgust, as is the current way of looking at it. In actuality, what is primitive is our childish fear of this unknown food. Hopefully, it won’t stay unknown for much longer.

The study even mentions the fact that the analyzed insects turned out to be good sources of several  essential amino acids, like:

  • Lysine,
  • Threonine,
  • Leucine,
  • Isoleucine,
  • Valine,
  • Phenylalanine, and
  • Tyrosine.

Concerning the safety of eating crickets, well, it’s safe. Actually, the final sentence found in the study go as follows:

” These insects are therefore nutritious and safe for consumption.”

– Referring to the aforementioned statements in the study’s “conclusion”.

There’s a lot to be said when it comes to protein in crickets and other insects. I do however feel like we’ll leave it at that. If you do feel like learning more about the subject I’ll leave the link to the study here.

#3 Insects contain VitaminsFour Reasons to Eat Crickets starting Today

I never stop finding out good news when it comes to all the benefits entomophagy brings us. This fact brings me a lot of joy, knowing that today, I’ll be able to spread at least some good information that’s helping people.

In this instance is the fact that crickets contain vitamins. Although protein is of massive importance, micronutrients like vitamins are often forgotten about.

Vitamin-wise, what does the cricket bring us?

Well, the very same study which brought us the information that insects are nutritious and safe for consumption tells us something more.

It tells us they were good sources of:

  • Vitamin A,
  • Vitamin E,
  • Vitamin K,
  • Vitamin B2 and,
  • Vitamin B12.

Even though I myself use nutritional supplements I wholeheartedly believe your diet should be your primary source for nutrients, as do many dieticians, nutritionists etc.

After all, it’s called nutritional supplements for a reason. I guess it’s a good thing we have bugs, like the cricket, we can eat them as they are or by eating cricket-flour or other cricket-based products. Insects, in reality, seem to be nutrient dense monsters. I think by now, you would agree.

Why do we need vitamins?

We need vitamins from food since these organic compounds are something your body can’t make itself. And our bodies need them in order for proper bodily functions to occur such as:

  • Metabolism, 
  • The building of bones,
  • Teeth,
  • Muscles,
  • Blood and a number of tissues.

Crickets and vitamin B12

Now, I won’t go over all of the individual vitamins, it’s a matter for another article. However, since a growing number of people are becoming more and more health conscious, more, and more also focus on eating a lot of vegetables. And for those of us who eat a lot of vegetables, as one should, we have vitamin B12 to consider. This is yet another reason why one could argue entomophagy is desirable since you can find them in insects. Truth be told, the vitamin B12 content in many insect species are low. Needless to say, that isn’t the case for crickets.

Take the house cricket (Acheta domesticus) for example, here you can find it has a B12 content of:

  • 5.4 μg per 100 grams for adults and,
  • 8.7  μg per 100 grams in nymphs.

According to WebMD.com, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in micrograms (mcg) for 14-year-olds and up is 2.4 mcg/day. It’s fair to say that when it comes to B12, and how much you need, we find various answers depending on the source. What we need, and how much we need of any given nutrient must take into account things such as pre-existing conditions health-wise.

What we can establish here and now is the fact that crickets do contain vitamin B12.

#4 Insects create JobsFour Reasons to Eat Crickets starting Today

In Europe and its cousins across the world, we often see job creation and an income with the image of a large industry or service sector. Needless to say, this image is by no means faulty. There are other means of creating jobs and earning an income though. In places like Africa and South East Asia, there are people who eat insects. Consequently, there’s a market for it. Hence, there’s a market for a workforce as well. This workforce can be made up of people with little or no education. Giving them the opportunity for them too, to be able to earn an income. Actually, its places like Thailand where you find they have the most experience with this industry. Insect gathering or insect farming can be done both a large-scale industrial level or small-scale, “household level”.

Insects;

  • Nutritional composition,
  • Simple rearing techniques and,
  • Quick growth.

are valid pieces of information which can help turn around the financial and nutritional deficit in some parts of the world. The United Nations Forestry and Agricultural Organization mentioned the fact that:

“The process of insect gathering, rearing, and processing into street foods or for sale as chicken and fish feed is easily within reach of small-scale enterprises.”

This is good news since nutritional deficiencies such as protein deficiency often affect the poorer in society. The same goes for places where there’s been natural disasters or social conflicts. It’s a legitimate way of making an honest buck. With insects, high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber as well as their mineral content, entomophagy is the way forward. If you’re still not sold on entomophagy and the reasons to eat crickets starting today, just do me one favor. That is, If you ever go to Thailand, you’ve got to try getting your bugs from a stick. I don’t know why, but it’s delicious. Hopefully, that would turn you.

Safety

When it comes to transmitting zoonotic infections to humans, livestock and wildlife, insects in comparison to birds and mammals may pose less of a risk. However, further research is needed.

I would also like to reiterate one of the many things we have learned today, that is:

“The finding in this work that the selected insects are nutritious and safe for consumption may alleviate the fear of entomophagy thereby reducing the overdependence on conventional animal proteins.”

Safety concerns have been addressed in another article here at kutaan.com and you can read it here.

Conclusion

Writing this article has meant I’ve learned a lot of things regarding entomophagy, and in simpler terms, “why you should start eating crickets today”. I hope you now realize that entomophagy is the way to move forward. After all, bugs are:

  • Nutritious,
  • Have vitamins and minerals,
  • You got your protein and yummy amino acids, both the essential ones and non-essential ones,
  • Crickets contain vitamin B12,
  • Insects create jobs.
  • The cricket we see that it needs only 2 kg of feed for every 1 kg of body weight gain. Meanwhile, 10 kg of feed is required to get one kg of beef.

Thank you all, hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it.

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