Researchers recommend insect meat25th January 2011
A group of Dutch scientists are working on a ground-breaking new approach to human nutrition that involves eating insects for protein instead of eating meat.
Compared to beef, insects are much more efficient to raise, not to mention more environmentally friendly.
The fact that insects are more economical to grow as food could make them the food of choice in 2050, when the planet will have a total population of nine billion, according to UN statistical calculations.
The researchers said that 10 kilos of feed could theoretically produce six to eight kilos of insect meat.
Insects also have a lot of protein, are lean, and do not transmit disease in the way that animals slaughtered for meat do.
Arnold van Huis, of Waganingen University in the Netherlands, said he believed a day would come when buying a Big Mac hamburger would cost the equivalent of £100.
He said that, on the other hand, buying a hamburger made out of insect material would probably end up costing somewhere in the range of £10.
The researchers recently allowed 200 people to taste the foods they believe people may consume in the future.
Chef Henk van Gurp said that one of the dishes tasted just like a quiche lorraine, but with meal worms instead of bacon or ham.
Marcel Dicke, also of the University of Waganingen, said that people had to get over their inhibitions about eating insects.
Van Huis said that people in Mexico already ate about 500 types of insects, that people in Africa ate about 250 types, and that Chinese people also ate about 180 types.
Marian Peters, secretary of the Dutch insect breeders association, said that grasshoppers were like the caviar of insects.
She said that grasshoppers were delicious stir fried with good oil, garlic, and red pepper, and that the insects could also be served in a taco.
Roland van de Ven produces 1,200kg of meal worms a week on his farm.
Every week, he only uses between one and two percent of the worms for human consumption.
He believes that people can tolerate eating insects as long as they are processed and not visible in food.
He said that people had a similar inhibition when it came to buying a steak from a store rather than slaughtering an animal and cooking its meat.
Since last year, demand for insects has grown.
Peters said that his colleagues were also hoping to use insect protein in the same way soy is used, to resemble various types of meat.
Surprisingly, wasps and termites are just as edible as bugs like beetles and gnats.
In the Netherlands, only three species so far have found a place on farms: meal worms, buffalo worms, and grasshoppers.
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