Insects have of late become a popular delicacy in most countries of the world. With the rise in population, it is very necessary to check the depletion of natural resources by taking measures such as cutting down on the consumption of animal protein foods. Anticipating this imminent danger, scientists had to propose alternatives to animal proteins whose production drains the Earth's resources.
Recently, scientists have agreed that insects may be a good alternative to high-quality proteins and at the same time do not deplete nature's resources such as animal food. Even though insects cause some damage to agricultural crops, they have another function as food for humans, and it can even be manufactured and exported as different food items. This indicates that insects may constitute a rich food source for the inhabitants of the Earth in the future.
In light of the growing need for other sources of food, as well as the desire to treat animals more humanely, some expect that eating insects will eventually spread greatly in the Western and developed countries. They expect pancakes made of flour extracted from crickets or falafel stuffed with weevil flour to become favourite dishes like sushi.
Executive Director of the Oman Centre for Animal and Plant Genetic Resources, Dr Nadia al Saadi, has said in a statement: “It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world population will be 9 billion, which means that current food production will need to nearly doubled”.
She continued, “This is not a simple task, as land is becoming scarce. Expansion of the area devoted to agriculture is rarely feasible and viable. Moreover, the oceans currently face problems like overfishing, climate change and a lack of water which will have far-reaching effects on animal husbandry and crop production. So facing food and nutrition challenges is making governments, scientists and the food industry re-evaluate what we eat and how it is produced”, confirming “ I'm very serious when I tell you that bugs are a big choice on the table”.
Insects are among the major resources readily available in forests, as a protein-rich food source. They form part of the traditional diet of at least two billion people around the world. Since the collection and breeding of insects is a source of employment and income, this activity currently takes place mostly at the domestic level and can also be practised on an industrial scale. Insects do not require much energy to produce food, due to their cold-blooded nature. On an average, insects consume two kilograms of food to produce one kilogram of "insect meat". On the other hand, cattle require eight kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of beef.
Moreover, insects produce only a tiny fraction of emissions from exhausts such as methane, ammonia and other greenhouse gases. Insects can also be used to reduce waste, aiding in the natural fertilisation of the soil by returning nutrients to the earth, as well as reducing unpleasant odours.
Today, delicious insect dishes have begun to infiltrate European meals after a long wait, as many people of the world have preceded them in various continents. Frogs , however, have occupied their place on European tables for a long time ago. But many other insects such as spiders, cockroaches, worms, locusts and caterpillars seem to be on their way to the tables around the world. So, are you ready for food of the future?