One of the biggest issues that comes with producing food from insects is public perception. Most people find the thought of eating insects disgusting and many people are scared of creepy crawlies and can’t look at them. The option to try before you buy may become the best solution when trying to make public perceptions change.
Many of us find the thought of eating bugs gross and it is not only due to the celebrities that almost puke on I’m a Celeb when they are forced to eat them in trials. Insects are not a common food source in Europe, therefore we are already in the mindset that they are not to be eaten.
However, there are 2 billion people worldwide that eat insects within their diet, and in areas of Africa and Asia, insects are a staple part of their diets.
At COP26, it was stated that food production created 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 14.5% of this figure comes from livestock, due to the methane they release. The use of insects to produce food is known to have much lower greenhouse gas emissions, and their methane emissions are a whopping 80% less.
By 2050, it has been predicted that the world’s population will reach nine billion, and with parts of the world struggling to get enough food to eat, malnourishment is only going to get worse. To counteract this, the land needed to be cultivated, not just for meat products but also plant-based products, will increase. This will lead to an increase in deforestation and further loss of our planet’s biodiversity.
This method is clearly unsustainable, and the cultivation of insects solves many of these problems. Firstly, there is no competition for farmland, and they also have an excellent conversion rate.
In 2017, Finland produced Europe’s first insect bread using dried crickets and wheat flour. They found that the bread contained more protein than an average loaf of bread, showing that insects contain the nutrients we need in our diets.
In January 2021, the EU’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), confirmed that yellow mealworms were safe for human consumption, and there is the chance that other insects will be given the same green light soon. With around 2,000 species of insects that are known to be edible, there are numerous opportunities to take advantage of, when considering sustainable food production using insects.
In the UK, supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, who have begun to put insect products on their shelves, have found that one of the most popular insect-based food products are flavoured and roasted crickets.
As long as people’s perceptions change, regarding insects, insect-based food production will be an amazing way to reduce the carbon footprint of food production.