Yummy Bug Bites: Is Eating Insects Part of a Healthy, Sustainable Diet?

eating crickets photo

It might surprise you that the average person accidentally ingests 1-2 pounds of flies, maggots, and other bugs without even knowing it each year. And while you might find eating insects repugnant, not everyone does.

In fact, 2 billion people worldwide already enjoy eating insects in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia. When it comes down to it, we Westerners are missing out on this healthy and sustainable part of a green diet.

Climate change is dramatically reducing the amount of arable land and potable water available on the planet, and at the same time, we’re adding another 2 billion people beyond its population capacity. A meat-based diet requires 10 times the land per calorie than that of a grain or vegetable diet. Giving up meat seems obvious, and well, the only choice. Meat just isn’t part of a green diet.

Luckily, there’s another form of animal-based protein that’s plentiful, sustainable, and nutritious. Enter gastronomical insects and lots of them. As for the yuck factor–it doesn’t have to be permanent. According to Vox:

These random variations are the results of cultural beliefs that crystallize over generations, until it begins to seem like a natural truth that eating insects is gross….. Luckily, these arbitrary taboos can be defeated over time. There was a time when raw fish — served as sushi — was seen as repugnant in mainstream US culture. Now it’s ubiquitous.

Just as sushi is now all the rage, insects are poised to be the next mainstream food trend. Sushi is no longer sustainable (in so many cases), but insects are ideal. Raising insects like mealworms or crickets for food is easier on the planet. They’re cold blooded so they require less feed per unit of their body weight. You also consume their entire bodies, so there’s little waste when compared to eating flesh.

Not to mention the health factor. Insects have a high level of protein per gram, especially house flies, crickets, and mealworms. They’re also good sources of calcium, iron, and zinc. Insects are also rich in B12, a nutrient which the body needs to run optimally, but is difficult to find in food sources.

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Image: Krista