Lion King that came out in 1994 was supposedly onto something when it showed the main character of Simba diverting from his usual diet of animals to eating insects.
Now, while people in the world do eat insects, it is a very niche group of people who generally eat them.
By and large, eating insects or bugs is considered gross or weird by people around the world, who don’t understand how they can be eaten.
However, that attitude might change when people realise that eating bugs can actually be healthy and necessary going forward.
Do Only Chinese Eat Insects?
The notion that only the Chinese eat insect is actually a wrong one when in actuality, this practice dates back to the prehistoric times.
The act of eating insects by humans is called ‘Entomophagy’ and around 3,000 ethnic groups practice it, with almost 80% of nations in the world consuming around 1,000-2,000 insect species.
And this is not just limited to China, in fact people from Australia, Africa, Central and South America and other parts of Asia are also known to consume insects.
As per a study done by the FAO in 2005, there were around 2 billion people eating insects around the world.
Although consuming them is seen as more normal in Asian regions like China, Japan, even our own North-East region of India.
How was it brought into the cuisine?
In Asia, the early signs of eating insects was suggested when archaeologists found large holes in wild silkworm cocoons, indicating that the pupae inside was eaten in the Shanxi area of China. This dated all the way back to 2,000 to 2,500 BC.
There are a number of reasons why insects could have been added to the cuisine, perhaps the large number and how widely available they are in a region. Another could be to add an exotic touch certain dishes and make them feel luxurious.
I don’t suppose getting the larvae or pupae of insects like silkworm and all was all that easy.
It has also been proven that many insects like locust, silkworm, cicada, and such are quite rich in protein and have other nutritional benefits just like other regular meat.
These insects are still consumed in various places across Asia like Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and more.
Often traditional markets in these tourist-friendly destinations have long lanes where people are selling deep-fried insects, bugs of various kinds like cricket, grasshoppers, ant eggs and more.
Some reports have even suggested that the nutritional components like amount of fat, protein and all of meats like chicken and beef are close to that offered by insects.
Science says you need to eat insects to survive?
Apparently, the growing impact of the meat consumption of the world, and how much effort and resources are going in cultivating livestock, has made scientists look at another food source.
Insects could be, according to researchers at the University of Queensland, a good source for sustainable protein along with new plant sources.
These scientists are exploring a new avenue for protein among locusts, maggots and such to get adequate protein supplement.
With unique food items being created to incorporate insects into daily food like insect ice-cream, chicken items being made from black soldier fly, there is a need to find some alternative to the frenzy of chicken consumers.
As per a source, in 2009 some 50 billion chickens were said to roam the earth while the global population rate in 2016 was estimated to be only around 7.3 billion.
Dr. Louwrens Hoffman, Meat Science Professor at the University of Queensland said that “poultry is a massive industry worldwide and the industry is under pressure to find alternative proteins that are more sustainable, ethical and green than the grain crops currently being used,” in a quote to Daily Mail.
This overpopulation of poultry has resulted in some harmful environmental reaction, like the increase in methane gas that is released the burps and farts of cows.
Along with that, water and electricity being wasted on creating the meat products also need to be taken into consideration.
While cultured meat, created in labs using cultured cells is something that scientists are working on, but it could be a few decades before that is available on a mass level, affordable to all.
The use of insects in food, however, is something that can be done much more easily and without spending a lot of money.
It is also to take notice that insects could give a higher level of protein without the health risks that common meat does. As per Daniella Martin, an Entomophagist, “dried beef is about 50 percent protein, dried crickets weigh in at 65 percent protein.”
This does make one wonder if Chinese or Asian people who are more familiar with eating insects could be a more adaptive and thus powerful race than the rest who don’t really agree with eating bugs.
Since they are already eating them and have no inhibitions of it, they could perhaps get ahead in the race to be healthier and outlive other human races.
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