For several years now I have been quite interested in entomophagy which means eating insects. I’ve started buying insect dog food for the dogs we borrow and this week I bought a packet of ground buffalo (buffalo is a type of beetle, also known as mealworm) from a Welsh company called Bug Farm Foods. It was not cheap. I paid £7.99 for this tiny pack.
Inside the packet, it looks like this and has a nice nutty aroma (Ben, however, thinks the smell is vaguely reminiscent of cockroach.) There’s no visible sign of worms.
I put a tablespoon of my ground insect powder into muffins. There were 12 but Ben and the kids all grabbed one the minute they left the oven. I didn’t tell anyone they contained insects and they all wolfed them down.
Insects will have a big part to play in the future of food. It’s clear we cannot go on eating farmed chickens, pigs, and cows and while I think there’ll be a big shift towards a plant-based diet, I also think insects and lab-grown meat will play a part. How big, I’m not sure.
Insects are promising because their nutritional content is very good. A study published in 2016 found the iron bioavailability in these buffalo bugs is higher than beef.
The same study compared beef with grasshoppers, crickets, and buffalo worms and found all three insects beat beef in the bioavailability of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
Insect farming is also much more sustainable than the farming of animals like cows, chickens, and beef. They require less land, less water, produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and require less feed per protein produced than other animals. Entomophagy is also a good way to deal with locust swarms if you have them in your area.