Eating insects may seem like an alien concept to many people, especially in the western world, yet believe it or not it may just be the answer to what will soon become a major issue. If population growth continues at its present rate then by 2050 we will need to produce between 50-70% more food* to support a population that will be pushing 10 billion. As the world's population rises its available space for agriculture decreases, and with it the ability to meet the growing demands for protein from traditional sources.
Some nations are trying to counter this by intensely farming cattle in feedlots in a bid to produce greater quantities of cheap beef, but that in itself is creating untold problems that are too many and complex to examine here. We could eat less meat, but in order to do that we would need the world's population to buy into it, which lets face it is a battle that can't be won. So what is the solution then? How can we meet these ever-increasing demands for protein? How can we feed ten billion people?
I'm not the first to suggest it, and I most certainly wont be the last, but we could eat more insects. It might not seem the obvious solution but entomophagy is certainly a very viable one. First up insects have a very high protein content, not to mention the fact they are rich in various other micronutrients essential to the human body. They quite obviously don't occupy as much space as livestock, and certainly don't require as much food to reach a stage of maturity where we can eat them and reap their nutritional rewards. And yet, despite all of the evidence, there remains one major issue; they're insects.
The biggest problem in the Western world is, in my opinion, a matter of culture and mindset. You see we have grown up in a society where the 'norm' is beef, chicken, pork, lamb and turkey, and even then it is always the same main cuts of meat neatly packaged for us in plastic boxes. At best some people might eat the occasional piece of exotic meat, but on the whole anything outside of those core meats is seen as alien and weird. Yet to other people, the Chinese being a prime example, they think it strange we don't eat the chicken's feet, as to them this is just another part of the animal for consumption, to them it is normal and a part of their culture.
I am working alongside Grub to create a series of recipes to not only making eating insects more appealing, but to show people that it isn't difficult to incorporate them into our diets. This isn't a gimmick, but something I believe in. I appreciate that there will be those who will never be won over, but also a large number of people who will be willing to try these recipes. For those that do, I hope you enjoy them and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
* Source: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems Report, 2013