When your author is not thinking about future trends, one of his hobbies is curating a restaurant Blog. A convenient alignment of the stars permitted for a visit to a restaurant in London that specialises in serving dishes that “explore the exotic.” While the menu may not to be everyone’s liking, in the interests of research, your author sampled a wide selection of critters. A starter of pan-fried chermoula crickets was followed by a meaty main accompanied by a salad comprising mealworms, silkworms, and locusts. There was a satisfying savoury crunch to the bugs; a taste sensation somewhere between tinned tuna, pork scratchings and smoked nuts. Dessert was chocolate-covered locusts (interested readers may find a full review here).
There was, however, a serious point to this endeavour. Over 9bn people will need feeding by 2050, implying a ~35% increase in global food demand relative to current levels (per the United Nations Food & Agriculture Office). At the same time, the earth’s resources are increasingly stressed. Eating bugs represents an important solution to the problem. Consider that insects require just a fraction of the land, water and feed in comparison to traditional livestock, for the same amount of protein. They can also be farmed in virtually any climate or environment. Insects need just a third of the square metres of cultivable land required by a chicken and less than a tenth of that needed by a cow to produce the equivalent amount of protein. Meanwhile, for every kilo of insect protein produced, just 1g of greenhouse gas is emitted. The equivalent amount for chickens is 300 times this figure. For cows, it is over 2,800 times.
The benefits don’t end here. Insects are good for you. They are rich in protein and other essential nutrients including animo acids, vitamin B, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Crickets, for example, contain over three times as much protein and five times the amount of calcium as any conventional animal protein. If crickets may not be your thing, then worry not; there are some 1900 species from which to choose. Over 2bn people worldwide are already enjoying insects as part of their diet; just anomalously few in the developed, western world (all data cited can be found here).
Even if it may take some time for many readers of this piece to get their heads around eating insects, we should expect to see them at least featuring increasingly within the food that animals eat, given the above advantages. At the same time, the human market looks primed for further growth. Many exciting start-ups have sprung up across the world including Short Horn in the UK and Ynsect in France. Some consultants expect the market for edible insects to reach $1.5bn by 2026, a greater than tenfold increase over 2019 levels. Next up for your author on this topic is a visit to an insect farm in west London in July, followed by a live cooking event. Watch this space…
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