I’d bet that the only bug you ever ate was sometime between the age of 1 and 8. So, perhaps it´s time to become a kid again and see what bugs can do for you.
In this article:
The cricket revolution is needed. Today there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people and by 2050 the world will host almost 9 billion people.
The land is scarce, oceans are overfished, climate change and related water shortages could have profound implications for food production. We need to start looking at some new ways to overcome today’s, and coming nutritional challenges of our world.
When looking at the nutritional value of “new” food or food that we’re skeptical about, we ask the question “what about protein?”. It is an important question to raise since it’s a cornerstone to the growth and overall health of people everywhere.
Having access to dietary protein is simply fundamental to the health and well-being of people everywhere.
Edible Insects & Protein Content
“Edible insects have about the same protein content as conventional meat and more PUFA.”- Entomology, Wageningen University.
The tropics, especially Asia and Africa have a significant fraction of their rural population who eat edible insects as their source of crucial nutrients. And its use for better nutrition is re-emerging.
Also, did you know that in certain African communities insects form 5-10% of the protein they consume?
“The idea that people resort to eating insects because of hunger is an erroneous western perception as insects are often considered a delicacy in their country of origin.” -Food and Agriculture of the United Nations.
Protein Content Comparison
The protein content of insects varies strongly, but let’s look at the crickets. Here we find out that the average protein content between raw beef to that of the raw insect species, the cricket, we find that the protein content per 100 grams of fresh beef weight consists of 19-26 grams, while the cricket will give you 8-25 grams of protein per 100 grams of fresh weight.
Since meat is synonyms with protein intake, at least to the majority of people I suggest we go one step further and compare fish intake and insects in relation to protein, and what we find out is…
That mackerel gives us 16-28 grams of protein/100 grams of fresh weight and again the cricket supplies us with an eco-friendly 8-25 grams of protein/100 grams of fresh weight.
Insects & Nutritional Content
There are plenty of places around the world where people have been, and still are consuming insects for food, and it’s been like that for 2000 years, at least in China.
In China, we can find the nutritional value of 174 species of insects, and guess what, all of them contain
at levels that meet human nutritional requirements.
Inescts & Land Mass Requirements
With the use of crickets for food and other insects, we can really change our dietary way of life to have a sustainable future for us, our children, and our planet.
Looking at protein per acre, which is becoming of more and more significance, crickets and insects overall starts to look quite interesting. Increasing demand for meat, like beef, on an ever “shrinking” planet has prompted the search for alternative protein sources.
Crickets and other edible insects, overall, as an alternative protein source could prove beneficial in terms of low greenhouse gas emissions because of the high feed conversion efficiency and with its low land use.
Sources of dietary protein that are commonly considered the tip-top quality are:
- Meat such as beef, pork, and lamb
Now, why is that? Because all of the crucial amino acid requirements are met that are needed for people, and are very absorbable.
And as stated before, by the year 2050, it’s projected that earth’s population will have reached about 9 billion people. Beef and other animal-based protein-rich food might not be able to accommodate future demands since the global population is increasing as well as the per capita income.
Not to mention the world’s production of agricultural commodities like maize, rice, wheat, and soy. Which may need to increase by 60%-110% by the year 2050 to meet the global demand for the key sources of plant-based dietary protein they represent.
Crickets & Feed Conversion Efficiency
Crickets and insects overall represent a protein-dense source of food. With a stunning global total of a five-fold increase of meat consumption since the mid-1940s, insects may have an agricultural, economic, and environmental edge if one compares it with your conventional livestock.
This because it includes…
- A higher feed conversion efficiency, which means that it carries a higher rate of efficiency of turning feed into body mass.
- Crickets have a higher rate of edible weight, about 80%, while your standard livestock only carries an edible rate of weight at about 55% for pork and chicken and about 40% for cattle.
- Decreased waste production.
- On average, insects can convert 2 kg of feed into 1 kg of insect mass, whereas cattle require 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of body weight gain.
- Insects can feed on bio-waste, such as food and human waste, compost and animal slurry, and can transform this into high-quality protein that can be used for animal feed.
- Insects use significantly less water than conventional livestock. Mealworms, for example, are more drought-resistant than cattle.
We now see the development of insect-rearing facilities and farms in numerous countries around the world. This due to the expanding interest in the different species of edible insects such as the cricket. It is seen as an alternative protein-rich food source that us humans can eat.
Protein from commercially produced edible insects may be expected to have more consistent protein and amino-acid content than insects collected from the wild due to standardized feed and environmental conditions.- Oxford University Press
If you like going to the gym, you’re probably using a protein shake after your workout, and they are often based on dairy. However, nowadays you can find defatted powders made out of insects and could be used in your exercise and nutrition stack as an alternative to your old dairy-based protein shake.
Cricket Powder for Chocolate Chip Cookies
Samford University conducted a study where they evaluated the content of protein using cricket powder as a partial replacement to flour in chocolate chip cookies. This due to the…
- Efficient feed to lean mass conversion,
- Insects as a potentially sustainable source of protein and
- Decreased waste production.
What the study showed was that the chocolate chip cricket powder cookie had an increased tenderness and volume compared to the normal chocolate chip cookie. It also showed an increase of:
- 3% of DV (Daily Value) per serving in overall protein content.
- The vitamin, B12, had an increased value of 10% of DV per serving. This is more than in some meats.
- It also showed an increase of 4% DV in dietary fiber.
Considering the cookies had only a small part of its wheat flour, 32 grams out of 205 grams, replaced with cricket powder, the increase of dietary fiber, vitamin B12, and protein makes this very interesting in terms of nutritional density. Ones again we witness that protein is not something that we can only get from beef, cheese or chicken. It’s plentiful in the world of bugs!
Now, Chocolate chip cookies have nothing to do with the protein content of beef, but I just wanted to demonstrate how useful it could be being an insectivore and that I wanted you to know that protein doesn’t need to give you the image of a cow. Now you can think of chocolate chip cookies when you use cricket flour- you’re welcome.
If you whish to learn more about protein I’ve written another article which you can find here.