With a growing population, heading towards 9 billion people by 2050, we need to produce food more efficiently and at a lower cost to the planet.
Enter insects. In some cultures, eating them is mainstream. For others, some may have been ingested involuntarily or experimentally during an exotic vacation abroad.
The environmental benefits are compelling. Edible insects can be grown on organic waste and contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for direct human consumption or as stock feed for animals. Insects have a high food conversion rate, e.g. crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less than pigs and two times less than broiler chickens to produce the same amount of edible weight. Besides, they emit significantly less greenhouse gases than conventional livestock.
That all sounds fine in theory. But, do insects taste any good?
To practice what we preach, we felt we had to find out. So we ordered samples of meal worms (rosemary flavour) and crickets (chilli and lime).
Our fearless, protein fiend Jimmy took the first step, chewing down a few crickets. “Not bad… crunchy, quite tasty,… and good protein for after the gym”.
Ever adventurous Maisie went next, sampling some worms. “Tastes a bit like seafood, I wouldn’t be able to eat too much, but not bad. The maggots are surprisingly dry though… I wonder what happened to the juicy insides?
Never one to be outdone, Blake put an assortment on his daily sandwich as nutrient supplement (see picture below). “The rosemary really shone through. A perfect addition to a cheese sanger!”
The general thumbs up is a good sign. Ok, perhaps it’s going to take a while to make bugs a a mainstream part of Western cuisine. But with the considerable potential to feed future generations with low environmental impact, we cannot ignore that insects need to gradually become a day-to-day feature of our dishes and our grandchildrens’ lunch boxes.
As with all promising emerging technologies, trends, solutions and life styles, we also need to fully understand the wider implications and consequences. Often, transitions that seem entirely sensible collapse when put under the microscope. At Edge, we are keen to explore the consequences of introducing more insects into our diets and food production systems. When does it make sense, and under what conditions, considering the full life cycle and economic, social and economic impacts and benefits?
For now, Maisie, Jimmy, Blake and myself have overcome our initial reluctance to eating meal worms and crickets. We encourage you all to try it if you haven’t already. Come by our office, and crunch a pinch of chilli lime crickets.