Edible Insects: Solving the Global Food Problem

Jul 31, 2015 09:30 PM EDT | By Mikey Blanco

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The future of food looks promising-but not if you are an insect. The University of Adelaide is seriously looking into insects as a regular food source or food base for developing countries. The serious lack of protein in the diets of these populations requires some alternative approaches.

"There has been growing interest in eating insects with nations around the world being encouraged to consider edible insects as an emerging agricultural industry," says Kerry Wilkinson, associate professor.

However, the university is also looking at the possibility of bug meals being served locally in Australia. Perception data on cockroaches, mealworms, and crickets as protein sources are being explored and collated right now.

High protein flours and powders can also be created using edible insects. Their nutritional value consists of protein, mono and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Global issues like overpopulation and food source must be addressed and Australia is taking the lead into insect research. Bugs are cheap and easy to cultivate and could be an agricultural industry in itself should it prove successful.

"Even if the domestic market completely rejects edible insects, it's quite possible that other countries around the world may look to Australia as a source of these edible insects," the professor adds.

That might very well be the case. With 2 billion people around the world routinely eating insects, this research might make Australia a leader in producing edible insects for this massive potential market.

In the Western world, it might take a little bit more convincing to get insects on the dining table. However, progress has been made on this front. Next Millennium Farms (NMF) was started in January 2014 by Jarrold Goldin, together with his brothers Ryan and Darren, which was inspired by a UN report recommending insects for human consumption. The operation started with 5,000 square feet of land for mealworm farming and produced $65,000 in sales. Since then, 60,000 square feet of farmland was added for crickets. Each insect has been producing more than $100,000 in sales since then.

The future of food may not be what most expect it to be, but research, a change in attitudes, and basic human needs may be the eventual reasons for insects becoming a food staple.

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