During a recent marathon of Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” episodes, I found myself intrigued by his oft-repeated claim that insects could be our answer to a world-wide food shortage and the expensive practice of raising livestock.
Of course, this claim often comes as Zimmern is biting into a scorpion, tarantula, or other nightmare-inducing organism, thus causing a cringe and not much further thought on the subject.
Zimmern and an insect feast.
However, for some reason, during this recent viewing of “Bizarre Foods,” I found myself intrigued by the idea. So I did some searching to find out just how common this idea is to those “in the know.” Turns out insects as food is a widely discussed option that could solve an ever-growing problem.
The costs of using livestock – chickens, cows, pigs – as major food sources are huge, both environmentally and economically. And the use of large animals is wasteful.
Insects are a different story, though.
Insects are easy to raise requiring small amounts of water, food, and space. Additionally, they are nutritious. For example, catepillars are full of protein, zinc, calcium, and other vitamins. The nutritional value of insects, while often overlooked in the US, is known and utilized throughout other parts of the world.
Therefore, due to the low cost and sustainability of insects as a food source as well as their potential to provide nutrition for people with little access to other vitamin- and protein-rich foods, the possibility of insects as a solution to world food shortages holds great promise.
Now if only those unaccustomed to eating the “pests” we usually try shooing out the door could get comfortable with the idea. If it’s up to people like Zimmern and David Gracer, who works to convince chefs and “foodies” that insects are next big thing, perhaps the bug revolution will be here sooner rather than later.
Maybe we all just need to take a cue from Timon and Pumba of “Lion King” lore and enjoy the grubs. Timon may be right – maybe they do taste like chicken!
Timon enjoying his insect delicacies.