According to one estimate, the edible insects market could be worth $1.18 billion by 2023. Full of nutrients, looks like this sustainable superfood is here to stay

Insects are certainly not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about what you could have for your next meal. As gross as they look, it’s not surprising to see insects getting sidelined when talking about superfoods even though they do have a whole lot of nutrition packed in them. Insects have a high content of fat, protein, fibers, vitamins.

According to a study from the University of Edinburgh, replacing half of the meat eaten worldwide with mealworms and crickets has the potential to cut farmland use by a third, freeing up 1,680 million hectares of land, equivalent to around 70 times the area of the UK. This could help slash global emissions. Unlike insect farming that requires very little space, raising livestock accounts for the use of 70% of agricultural land worldwide (Report by FAO), which is a lot.

With the world’s population growing rapidly, it’s estimated that food resources in the future will become very scarce. Insects are hence the next best option to avoid worldwide starvation and food insecurity in the future, as they contain all the necessary nutrients required. As mentioned, they can be farmed without the usage of excess resources including land and water. Insect farming can also prove to be a stable income for farmers around the world as their cultivation is not expensive and also doesn’t
use fancy and expensive machinery.

According to one estimate, the edible insects market could be worth $1.18 billion by 2023. Insect consumption is certainly not a trend that has recently started. There are parts of Asia and Africa, and even a few places in central and south America where insects are considered a delicacy and are traditionally eaten for many generations.

Krish Ashok, a software engineer, who loves to cook, columnist and author of the best seller book ‘Masala Lab’ in an interview with ‘Handi Talks’ says, “I’ve tried everything that is not illegal to eat, everything from insects to ants to fish eggs to rattlesnake. Ant larvae are some of the tastiest things that I’ve ever had, they’re cheaper than caviar. I like it better. Caviar actually tastes very muddy and salty. Likewise, Mexicans fry crickets in garlic, chilli and lime and they are amazingly crunchy and tasty just like
peanuts, they are 100% protein.”

A few tribes in North eastern states of India like Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram also eat a large variety of insects, ranging from crickets, beetles, bees, wasps, grasshoppers, locusts, termites, silk worms and dragonflies. They are cooked, fried, roasted or sometimes even eaten raw with salt and chilli.

The Gond tribals of Chhattisgarh also make a red ant chutney from red ants and their eggs. This dish is called Chaprah, which translates to leaf basket. The ants are grinded the traditional way with mortar and pestle. Added then are tomatoes, coriander, garlic, ginger, chili, salt, and a bit of sugar to create a smooth, orange paste. The taste is very spicy and acidic in nature.

As Krish Ashok says, “Don’t step outside and eat just the same old dal, the world of food is immensely wide open; experimental food lovers are increasingly trying out insects as the next best exotic food.”

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