Why are edible insects acclaimed by FAO?
Unlike conventional farm animals, edible insects pose only a small risk of transmitting zoonotic infections to humans. Also rich in protein and nutrients, they are easy to breed and the environmental impact of their production is low. All the potentialities are there. There remains only the cultural barrier that is about to be crossed …
Food safety issues
A growing demand for proteins
According to FAO figures, the Earth will have nearly 9 billion people in 2050. And by not counting billions of livestock, the Earth must feed them. Indeed, global demand for animal protein is growing rapidly due to rapid demographic and urban growth. Thus, 465 million tons of meat will be needed in 2050 against 229 million tons in 2000.
Intensification of the use of cultural resources
To meet this demand, agricultural professionals are intensifying the rational use of resources to produce protein sources. It is in this perspective that in Latin America, thousands of hectares of forest are destroyed each year to extend the cultivation of soya. This is the case of Brazil and Argentina. While this production is not intended primarily for human consumption, it feeds millions of cattle for meat production.
The impact of overgrazing
Livestock farming is also causing environmental problems due to soil and water pollution. Indeed, in some areas, the intensification of this activity causes the destruction of the ecosystem caused by overgrazing. According to the FAO, the 70% degradation of all dryland pastures is mainly caused by overgrazing. Indeed, it causes compaction and significant erosion of the soil.
Edible incest: a solution to ensure food security
An alternative to meat
Faced with these problems, edible insects are a real alternative to meat. Indeed, they have the advantage of having a shorter life cycle compared to beef or pork. In the case of an edible cricket, a larva reaches the adult form in 45 days. In addition, it can give up to 500 eggs per egg. The production of insects for feeding in aquaculture and poultry farming is developing and will surely become a trend.
It is enough that the conditions are reunited for it to occur massively and rapidly. This is why the breeding of edible insects thrives in the tropics. For example, Thailand, the world’s largest producer of edible insects, has an average temperature of around 30 ° C, ideal for growing small animals throughout the year. This is not the case in temperate zones. Most adults die during the cold season.
Strong food conversion
It only remains to find them a quantity of food to ensure the production. In fact, the growth rate and the feed conversion rate of edible insects are very high. On average, 2 kg of food is enough to produce 1 kg of insects. For comparison, 8 kg of feed is needed to gain 1 kg of body weight for beef. In this perspective, the breeding of insects is very profitable and constitutes a durable solution to the increase of the demand of animal protein.
Low environmental impact
Edible insects are clean proteins. Indeed, the environmental impact of entomoculture is minimal compared to that of other farms. For example, a pig can emit up to 100 times more greenhouse gas compared to 1 kg of edible insects. Given the consequences of climate change, this gap is simply considerable. In addition, production should be developed to meet the growing demand for protein in the world.
Saver in water
In addition, the water requirement of edible insects is derisory compared to cattle. In fact, to produce 1 kg of meat, an ox drinks about 13,500 liters of water. On the other hand, 1 kg of edible insects requires on average only 10 l. This low water consumption is a real advantage at a time when drinking water is a real issue in some parts of the world.
The most nutritious edible insects
Rich in protein
Edible insects are richer in protein compared to meats and fish. Indeed, 100 g of ordinary meat brings on average 25 g of proteins. In contrast, for the same amount, edible insects may contain up to 69g of protein. Under these conditions, they constitute a real alternative for proteins of animal origin.
Rich in essential fatty acids
In addition, most of them are rich in essential fatty acids, including omega 3 and omega 6. These nutrients help the body eliminate excess cholesterol. In addition, they are also useful for cell renewal, kidney function, cardiovascular and immune systems. As the human body can not synthesize them, external input is essential.
Rich in trace elements
Finally, edible insects are also rich in trace elements including iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and zinc. Take the case of iron for illustration. This element is at the origin of the red color of the blood. In fact, the iron contained in each hemoglobin fixes the oxygen and the transport through the bloodstream. To return to the diet, 100 g of dried beef contains only 6 mg of iron. For their part, edible insects of the same quantity provide 31 to 77 mg of iron.
The consumption of edible insects
Daily edible insects
Edible insects may be eaten whole or reduced to edible insect meal or paste. Thus, many companies develop the sector and present insect products. Entomophagists no longer have trouble finding quality products, ranging from natural or prepared insects. In addition, they are also available in edible insect meal or even in protein bars.
Given the nutritional potential of edible insects, it is only natural that FAO recommends edible insects to feed undernourished children. However, the world organization is not only militating in the context of an emergency. She believes that in the long term, edible insects will become an important source of protein and nutrients for all of humanity.