Bugs, it’s what’s for dinner

BANGKOK, THAILAND: A Thai worker prepares grubs to cook in the kitchen of Insects Inter in Bangkok, 12 September 2002. Insects Inter has capitalised on the local taste for fried insects, typically sold by street vendors, and created a franchise to take the tasty bugs up market. Eating wild animals and insects in Asia is not considered all that extraordinary. There are a number of these foods which in some cases have become delicacies which date back many years and have now almost become traditional eating being prepared and cooked in many different ways using herbs, spices, ginger and garlic to enhance flavours. Some restaurants even have dishes of some animals as their main drawcard and is considered a normal cousine. The Japanese love their whale meat and pufferfish, Cambodians are known to eat tarantulas-hairy spiders, while a number of other cultures incourage the eating of rats, snakes, bugs, beetles, monkeys (brains), crocodile, bats, scorpions, honey ants,grubs, embroyo eggs and many more. AFP PHOTO/Pornchai KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

From the “in a word, no” department and the AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY comes this same tired old story we keep hearing from eco-activists that believe bugs are more “sustainable” than beef. Because cattle make methane, and that will set the world on fire someday.

The buzz about edible bugs: Can they replace beef?

The idea of eating bugs has created a buzz lately in both foodie and international development circles as a more sustainable alternative to consuming meat and fish. Now a report appearing in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry examines how the nutrients — particularly iron — provided by grasshoppers, crickets and other insects really measures up to beef. It finds that insects could indeed fill that dietary need.

Eating bugs could provide as much or more iron and other nutrients as consuming beef. CREDIT American Chemical Society

Eating bugs could provide as much or more iron and other nutrients as consuming beef. CREDIT American Chemical Society

Edible bugs might sound unappetizing to many Westerners, but they’ve long been included in traditional diets in other regions of the world, which are now home to more than 2 billion people, according a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The report also notes that about 1,900 insect species have been documented as a food source globally. That they’re a source of protein is well established, but if the world is to turn to bugs to replace meat, the critters will need to offer more than protein. Iron is a particularly important nutrient that is often missing in non-meat diets, causing iron-deficiency anemia, which can lead to lower cognition, immunity, poor pregnancy outcomes and other problems. In light of these concerns, Yemisi Latunde-Dada and colleagues wanted to find out whether commonly eaten insects could contribute to a well-rounded meal.

The researchers analyzed grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms and buffalo worms for their mineral contents and estimated how much of each nutrient would likely get absorbed if eaten, using a lab model of human digestion. The insects had varying levels of iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Crickets, for example, had higher levels of iron than the other insects did. And minerals including calcium, copper and zinc from grasshoppers, crickets and mealworms are more readily available for absorption than the same minerals from beef. The results therefore support the idea that eating bugs could potentially help meet the nutritional needs of the world’s growing population, the researchers say.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the King’s College London.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Source: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/10/27/bugs-its-whats-for-dinner/


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