Insects as food

In this country, it is looked at as uncouth or taboos to even consider such an act as consuming a cockroach or perhaps a grasshopper. This may all change if current ecological trends persist. Should a program be put into effect to begin integration of insects into the diets of Americans, for low cost, low impact sources of protein?

The purpose if this paper will be to introduce the reader to the concept of universal integration (at least at some level,) of insect as a future protein, as well as a technological, and medical source. We will discuss the pros and cons associated with these topics in an unbiased intormative manor and allow the reader to decide tor themselves it it is indeed possible as a person as well as a society to overlook the “gross” factor associated with this topic, and see the benefits such an undertaking might hold.

A considerable portion of the world lacks the means (e. g. Land, water, food,) to produce large hoofed nimals such as cattle and pigs, which in European decent countries is considered the primary sources of food product. Instead they turn to select insect species that are raised in much smaller areas that require almost no space or food to produce, and unlike hoofed animals (cattle especially) have extra added benefits associated with their waste products.

In the case of worms when feed newspaper they produce one of the most beneficial fertilizers known, thereby preventing heaps of paper from being dumped in to landfills, and also a means to economically produce higher yielding crops. For what it takes to bring one cow to slaughter (estimate 1200 lb X $1. 50 per lb. + gas+ raising expenses) the equivalent of insects could feed thousands. Comparatively insects cost pennies per pound to produce. Breading stock of edible type insects exist in masses over seas Currently, industry is not set up to readily produce insects in masses.

The conversion of industrial equipment and production facilities would cost a considerable amount, there by adding to the price if initial production. Because insects are not currently a food staple of the U. S. A. , they would have to go through extensive testing by the F. D. A. and C. D. C. to evaluate the possible down sides of addition to food stocks. If we compare crickets to beef, the latter contains about twice as much protein per gram (12. 9 vs. 23. 5 grams per 100 grams). However, take note that beef also contains more than twice the calories (121 vs. 88. 2 calories per 100 grams) and almost four times the fat (5. 5 vs. 21. 2 grams per 100 grams) compared to crickets (F. V. Dunkel). Crickets (per 100 grams) contain 5. 1 g. carbohydrates, 75. 8 mg. calcium, 9. 5 mg. iron, 3. 10 mg. niacin, 1. 09 mg. riboflavin, 185. 3 mg. phosphorous, and 0. 36 mg. thiamine (F. V. Dunkel). From documented accounts (if prepared properly) the taste profile of most food type insects ranges from nutty to spicy Oadin). Insects can be vectors for disease, be poisonous, and can taste awful (Writer) (DeFoliart).

Some insects such as cockroaches serve as vectors for passive intermediate hosts of vertebrate pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses or helminthes (Writer). Insects such as wasps, fire ants, bees, and some spiders have neurotoxins that can cause severe anaphylactic reactions, potentially resulting in death. Also, blister beetles contain the powerful poison cantharidin, which can be deadly to humans if ingested (Writer). Some insects are reported to have a sour taste that if not accustom to it can be found to be very off putting.

This paper will go over the history of insect-based food in different cultures around the world. It will also diagram the protein, carbohydrate, fat, and vitamin content of a select group of “food” type insects, as well as the medical and industrial applications of their byproducts. Agricultural impact on production of insects as well as cost analysis of production at a microeconomic level will also be touched upon. This paper will discuss perceived stereo types associated with insects and what mpact it might have on the assimilation.

I will also discuss possible negative effects that might arise trom the cultivation ot insects such as termites and roaches so close to our homes and business. It is of my opinion that given the current growth trend seen worldwide that it is a necessity to begin programs to familiarize people in Eurocentric cultures to the importance of diversifying protein sources. If programs could be integrated into schools, it is my belief that within time we would be able to develop wide spread cultivation of food sources that would make healthy food more accessible to the less ortunate of our society.

In addition, along with the noted sustenance aspect there are also very appealing agricultural as well as medical advantages of the byproducts of rearing of insects. miet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. ” liv 11;21(KJV) A program should be put into affect to begin integration of insects into the diets of Americans, for low cost, low mpact sources of protein.

In a time of growing need, and lessening resources, we as a nation, need to begin exploring new options for sustainable protein sources. It is of my opinion that we should look to the consumption of insects, a time-honored tradition in over 70% of the world. This paper will review Just some of the pros and cons associated with the integration of bugs into the diets of Americans. It will show a nutritional, and somewhat of a cost comparison of one of the most readily available insects, the cricket, compared to what can easily be considered the favorite food source of Americans, the cow.

Furthermore it will touch upon some of the agricultural as well as ecological advantages and disadvantages of raising insects along with what role the average person might play in the future if the industry. In addition, it will also touch upon some of the practical and medical uses of chitin, as well as some of the disadvantages linked with insects in general, such as disease, bad taste, and the general “eww” factor. I feel that upon review of this paper the reader will be left with some real “food” for thought for the direction we might proceed to in the future. Insects have been used as a food source since the dawn of time.

Early primates used crude tools much as they do today to attain ants from holes. They foraged for termites in mounds and dyeing trees, and even on occasion whip up crude caterpillar martins to socialize and relax with their primate brethren (0k kind of Artistic license on that one). Evidence of man’s consumption of insect can be dated back to biblical times, as seen in a quote from Leviticus, “… [Elven these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. ” (Leviticus 1 1:22).

Paleontologists are currently tudding the use of insects as food from the great basin region of North America, and have shown that insects were a large staple of the diets of the native people of that region “… present review lends to the conclusion that insects were commonly and extensively used and that they played an important part in fulfilling the nutritive requirements ot the Great Basin Indians” (Sutten). And currently insect are consumed in most every second and third world country around the planet as a emergency ration or even a common staple of certain areas that lack what we would commonly see as food type animals (Sutten).

This is illustrated in the book Man Eating Bugs, where the writer talks about some of the countries that normally dine on insect and some local recipes such as, witchetty grub dip from Australia, deep fried water bugs from Thailand, and spicy beetle grub from Cambodia. So it is clear that insects have existed as a predominant food source for some areas of the world since the beginning of recorded history and will remain as such for the foreseeable future. The insects may very well be the single cheapest most easily sustained source of viable food protein available in the world.

For crickets, the time from growth and evelopment of the larvae, to an adult emerging from the last larval instars (stage) takes about 6 weeks (DeFoliart). Therefore, in the time it takes to bring the average grazed cow to slaughter (“A grass fattened animal is often not ready for slaughter until 18, and upwards of 24 months” (Sutten)) one could produce 12-14 cycles or more of edible cricket stock. In that time, enough food could be produced to provide for thousands of people.

Another point being that cattle require acres of land for grazing, and massive amounts of water to be viably sustained, wherein insects do not eed humane conditions to thrive, and require very little water and food to reach maturity (Lardy). Where water conservation is one of the chef concerns of a growing planet, alleviating some of the stresses put on resources by the agricultural community (see diagram 1, 2, (Sez) and table 1-6 (Lardy)) is of a great importance and with insects deriving most of their water form the food they ingest it would be possible to provide for them with relatively little lost resources.

Also, if in conjunction with the proposed insect rearing, there were a program to recycle fruit and vegetable aste from restaurants, as well as non-sellable produce from growers, possible tax breaks for business or return of dung as fertilizer to farmers, it would also alleviate some of the stresses put on by land fills and reduce costs on the “farmers” of insects. As for the availability of healthy food type insects, their everywhere. There are some economical down sides associated with this program however.

For any sort of large- scale industrial production to take place, it would require the conversion of, or more likely building of, factories for growing and possessing. This would add to the initial ost of food insects, thereby possibly making them more expensive than they are worth. Currently insects are not approved industrially for human consumption in the USA, and therefore must undergo rigorous testing by the FDA to pass into the wide- spared production phase. The conditions for approval by the F. D. A. for human consumption are lengthy and rigorous.

Safety review includes consideration of: (a) the probable intake of the additive; (b) the cumulative effect of all uses of the additive; and (c) the relevant toxicological data needed to establish its safety. The FDA’s Judgment about whether to approve a new food additive for a particular use comes after a “fair evaluation of the data,”. In many cases, this approval process can take years of scientific testing and analysis only to result in a negative Judgment making it undesirable for large business to invest into such a chance venture.

Another counter point being that we might be forced to import viable food stocks of untainted eggs and young as the wild stocks may contain parasites that would otherwise require numerous lost generations ot stock to assure non-contaminated breeding stocks. In a side-by-side comparison with some of the west’s’ favorite food sources insects stack up pretty well. Taking a look at chart 2, we see; that the giant water beetle contains 19. 8g of protein, 8. 3g of fat, 2. g calcium, 16. 6g iron, and 162 cal per 100g and the caterpillar, 28. 2g protein, 35. 5g iron, and 370 calories per 100g. And in a direct side by side comparison of crickets to beef;”… [T]he latter contains about twice as much protein per gram (12. 9 vs. 23. 5 grams per 100 grams). However, take note that beef also contains more than twice the calories (121 vs. 288. 2 calories per 100 grams) and almost four times the fat (5. vs. 21. 2 grams per 100 grams) compared to crickets”.

Although analysis shows that crickets in particular are lower in fat, calories, and protein per gram the afor mentioned table shows that there are some species that are in fact higher in all these categories, caterpillars in particular would require less actual ingestion per 100g to satisfy the same level of calories, protein, and fat that beef would and again as mentioned earlier they are the larval stage if the insect life cycle meaning, it would take a far shorter amount of time to produce ounce for ounce.

Bugs stack up pretty well against plants as well: “… analyses f 94 of the insect species consumed in Mexico also yielded high fat and caloric values. Soybeans [at 4660 kcal (” 19 572 kJ) kg- 1] was the highest ranking non-insect food tested, plant or animal. Maize was found to have a value of 3700 kcal (” 1 5540 kJ) kg- 1. Of the insects analyzed, 50% had a higher caloric value than soybeans; 87% were higher than corn; 70% were higher than fish, lentils and beans, depending on species and diet .

Insect fatty acids are similar to those of poultry and fish in their degree of unsaturation, with some groups being rather higher in linoleic and/or linoleic acids, which are the essential fatty acids. Insects also contain a high percentage of chitin, which along with other medical benefits (discussed later) can be a great substitute for plant fiber in diets of those to poor to acquire healthy grains found in bread. Currently the Japanese are using chitin to boost the fiber content in their cereal “chitin has been approved by the Japanese for use in cereals as a source of fiber and calcium… . attached is a booklet called Cooking With Cicadas that goes over some recipes that in some cases Just add some insects to “spice up” an old favorite or in some cases completely substitutes for other proteins altogether. There are negative repercussions that steam from the eating of the wrong bugs, such as; some insects secrete toxins, produce toxic metabolites or accumulate toxic chemicals from food plants (Blum, 1978; Duffey, 1980; Wirtz, 1984).

Defensive secretions that may be reactive, irritating or toxic include carb- oxylic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, alkaloids, ketones, esters, lactones, phenols, 1 A-quinones, hydrocarbons and steroids, among others. Phytochemicals accumulated by various insects include simple phenolics, flavin, tannins, terpenoids, polyacetylenes, alkaloids, cyanogens, glucosinolates and mimetic amino acids. Insects are also a source of injectant, ingestant, contactant and inhalant allergens (Wirtz, 1984; Gorham, 1991 ), and some insects serve as vectors or passive intermediate hosts of vertebrate pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses or helminthes.

So if not scrutinized the eating of insects can result in inadvertent sicknesses and even permanent chronic conditions. Another disadvantage is that some insects contain powerful toxins that are used as natural defense mechanisms that can be irritating to some and down right deadly to others. One case in point is the Giant Japanese or Asian Hornet that according to the source as a higher concentration of the pain-causing chemical called Acetylcholine than any other stinging insect and an enzyme in its venom can dissolve human tissue.

Also the blister beetle contains a powerful poison called cantharidin that can be deadly to humans if consumed. Understandably, these insects discussed may not be the first choice of the entomophagy entrepreneur, but never the less they can not be over looked. Yet another draw back to be considered is that insects must be handed in many ways like other arthropods such as lobster and crab. What is meant by this is hey must be cooked while alive, or very freshly dead, otherwise they secrete degradation chemicals that cause them to deteriorate rapidly, resulting in a profoundly pungent sour taste, which needless to say can be a huge draw back.

I have tried to give as objective as an opinion as is possible given the nature of the content. In this, we have gone through Just some of the history behind insects as a staple of past and present, I have listed some of the economical and agricultural pros and cons associated with using insects, as well as the nutritional information for Just a hand full of insects currently available in stocks around the world.

I have also attempted to touch upon some of the negatives associated with this topic such as some of the poisons that certain insects produce and secrete as well as some of the economical negativities that attempting to introduce this program might bring a bought. In summation it I feel that it would be very productive to begin familiarizing the population to the custom of eating insects and that integrated over time through cooking demonstration at schools and taste test in more populated areas, I think the idea could take hold. But ultimately it is for the reader to decide what they think. Diagramland 2 http://iw]ournal. m/insects-as-protein-supplement#comments (Table 1) lists estimated water intakes for lactating beef cows, dry beef cows, and bulls.

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