Saturday 18 September 2010

Insect food; most overlooked source of nutrition in the West

I wonder how many of us are aware that most people on the planet consume insects regularly. Red dye used in many of our foods and confectionery's like Coca Cola is derived from Charmine which is extracted from cochineal beetles and their eggs.

"An estimated 2,000 insect species are consumed around the world, and people do not just eat insects, they relish them as delicacies. In Africa, caterpillars and winged termites are fried and eaten as roadside snacks (after wings, legs, and bristles are removed, of course), and often considered tastier than meat. Grasshoppers and bee larvae seasoned with soy sauce are favorites in Japan, where pricey canned insects are also available. Papua New Guinea is known for its nutty-flavored sago grubs (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus papuanus or R. bilineatus), beetle larvae that inhabit dead sago palm trees and are honored at annual festivals.

Insects often contain more protein, fat, and carbohydrates than equal amounts of beef or fish, and a higher energy value than soybeans, maize, beef, fish, lentils, or other beans. According to a 2004 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, caterpillars of many species are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, as well as B-vitamins. In some African regions, children fight malnutrition by eating flour made out of dried caterpillars. Pregnant and nursing women as well as anemic people also eat caterpillar species high in protein, calcium, and iron." Source

Al Jazeera's news reporter, Charles Stratford walks and talks us through the market stalls in Vientiane, Laos in this news documentary video here about moves afoot towards developing and promoting insect farming.

Presently large swathes of farming districts in the south east of Australia are under threat of being severely munched up by a large areas of locust plagues and the plague control organizations are spending large sums of money on aerial spraying of toxic poisons. Maybe we ought to be looking at ways to hoover them up for the dinner table, which seems possible since insect farming in Australia already exists !
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