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Average human eats 450g of insects a year

But apparently that’s not a bad thing! Insects are high in protein, iron and zinc, says new Dutch research.

A lunchtime snack? Dutch professors believe eating insects makes sense, and is a natural progression for an increasingly populated planet.
A lunchtime snack? Dutch professors believe eating insects makes sense, and is a natural progression for an increasingly populated planet.
Image: photogirl7.1 via Flickr

THE AVERAGE person eats around 450g grams of insects a year, according to new by researchers in the Netherlands – who think we should be eating far more.

Researchers Marcel Dicke and Arnold van Huis, writing in the Wall Street Journal, believe that insects are far too abundant to be ignored as a potential food source for omnivores like humans – but believe there’s little reason for us to turn up our noses at them anyway.

“As the global population booms and demand strains the world’s supply of meat, there’s a growing need for alternate animal proteins,” the researchers opine, adding:

Insects are high in protein, B vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc, and they’re low in fat.

They continue that human’s shouldn’t consider themselves above dining on insects, as well – they are far more abundant than humans are, with four-fifths of the world’s animal population working off six legs, and with over 1,000 species having been identified as edible.

But what about the taste?

It’s often described as “nutty.”

With the world’s population set to grow to nine billion by 2050, the researchers believe that the cost of ‘traditional’ meats would become a prized luxury, as caviar currently is, due to the rising costs of breeding livestock.

And with the more economical ways in which insects can be bred for eating – and the comparatively little space needed – insects, they believe, could be a viable substitute.

“Insects produce less waste, too,” they argue. “The proportion of livestock that is not edible after processing is 30% for pork, 35% for chicken, 45% for beef and 65% for lamb. By contrast, only 20% of a cricket is inedible.”

As the world’s water supply gets more restricted too, insects would require less water to breed – and the drop off in conventional livestock would mean a fall in greenhouse emissions, to which livestock contribute 10 per cent.

“Not long ago, foods like kiwis and sushi weren’t widely known or available. It is quite likely that in 2020 we will look back in surprise at the era when our menus didn’t include locusts, beetle larvae, dragonfly larvae, crickets and other insect delights,” the researchers from Wageningen University conclude.

Read the full piece in the Wall Street Journal >

Would you be happy to eat insects if they had been prepared appropriately? And do you think humans will gradually become more accepting of an insect diet in the coming decades? Let us know your thoughts.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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