Eating Insects: Is It Really Too Gross To Handle?

Over the years we’ve seen more food trends than variations of the coronavirus. Famous examples include going keto, the Tom Brady diet, apple cider vinegar shots, Dalgona coffee and whatever the Kardashians were on. 2022, however, has stepped it up, and the latest trend in alternative eating involves – you guessed it – eating bugs.

Yup, we mean the little creepy-crawlies that make most of us squirm. While eating insects has been a trend in parts of Africa, South-East Asia and James Cordon’s show, it is recently being pushed into the limelight as a pathway to more sustainable food. In fact, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation insists that we include insects in our diet as they are an “underutilised” and “abundant” source of nutrients that could be the answer to our food shortage and sustainability concerns. 

Why You Should Stomach The Bugs:

The Sustainability Factor

Eating bugs isn’t the end of the world. On the contrary, it is a way to save it. The same amount of natural gas it takes to produce 200 grams of steak can produce nearly 200 kilograms of edible insects. Breeding and producing these creatures requires only a gallon of water, while the same amount of beef would require 2000 gallons! But it’s not just the water, and the greenhouse gas emission. Farming insects also requires much less arable land than does meat, seafood, or poultry. 

It’s no secret that our meat supply chains are defective. We have burgeoning food security issues, and the animal and seafood industries are slowly destroying the planet. In this context eating insects provides an important solution – an icky one, but a solution nonetheless. Insects are not only extremely sustainable to consume, but they are also sustainable to breed. Research shows that the by-products of insect production actually helps make the soil healthier and more resilient to toxins, diseases and bad weather – thanks to the high nitrogen content of insect waste itself. They also empower mini-ecosystems, grow healthy bacteria, and make insect production an almost zero-waste process. So, the answer is clear: eat insects, save the planet.  

The Nutritional Factor

Timon (from The Lion King, duh) once said, “Grubs – they’re slimy yet satisfying.” Turns out everyone’s favourite meerkat knew exactly what he was talking about. Insects pack a whole bunch of nutrients in their tiny frames that can help us meet our nutritional goals. They’re high in iron, vitamin B12, zinc and, most importantly, protein. 100 grams of grasshopper can have up to 28 grams of protein, which is really very. Just ask your friendly neighbourhood gym-bro if you don’t believe us. 

The Job Creation Factor 

Insect farming, breeding and production would also create jobs for millions of farmers in African and South-East Asian countries, giving them a steady stream of income. Insect production requires a relatively smaller area of land, little resources and almost no expensive machinery, allowing even the poorest farmers to capitalise on the industry. Research shows that this could not just help them lead a better life, but also aid their national economy. They’re also not seasonal in the same way as much agricultural produce, so farmers can earn off them all year round. 

The answer is clear: eat insects, save the planet.  

Mallika Jhaveri
In this Bangkok market, like in many other Asian countries, seeing cooked insects is anything but rare

What Could Bug You About Eating Bugs:

They’re Disgusting

Just because we’ve come to terms with eating pineapple on pizza does not mean we can do the same with bugs. I personally find it hard to look at a cricket and think, “Yum, can’t wait to eat that”. Many people find insects disgusting and even have phobias for them. If most of us can’t stand them being in the same room as us, having them on our plates would be a real stretch. 

Bug Bacteria

Bugs can potentially carry bacteria and toxins that they pick up by feeding on faecal matter, dead creatures, garbage or worse. They’re sometimes bred in unhygienic farms in questionable conditions and bearing in mind the last two years, eating a potentially infected creature is at the bottom of my list. While these risks are valid, research shows that they’re on par with those of eating meat, poultry and seafood. And the pros of eating insects do majorly outweigh the cons. 

Coming to terms with eating insects is not easy, but if you think you can handle it, go for it! However, don’t go all Bear Grylls and eat the first bug you see. Eat insects sourced from reputable farms and companies, be aware of your allergies (especially if you’re allergic to crustaceans) and educate yourself before popping insects like pills.

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