Worming their way into our diets

Insects are already a valued source of nourishment for two billion people. Around 80% of the world’s nations eat insects; approximately 1,700 are edible.

I’ve tried the odd bug or two and found them to be crunchy and pretty good. I write this knowing I’m not alone in my thinking. Nearly a third of Britons believe insects will eventually be part of mainstream human diets, according to research from the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (abc), an industry group promoting the use of genetically modified (GM) crops.

With talk of the challenges facing food production, the YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the abc, claims that 32%of British adults (48% within the 18 to 24 age-group) think that regularly tucking into cricket snacks and buffalo worm burgers will become commonplace within 10 years.

Men are more likely than women to predict that insect consumption will become more common (34% versus 30%), while those aged 25 to 34 were the most likely age-group to share this belief at 36%, in comparison to just% of those aged 35 to 44. Additionally, 33% of households with zero, one or two children saw the potential of insects, in comparison to 23% of households with three or more children.

Momentum is gathering behind insects in food production and recently we had EU guidance on using invertebrates. I’m excited to see the various forms insects take to feed the nation however I recognise there’s a way to go yet.

We cannot be sure how sustainable the process will be once scaled up. What’s more, we’ll need rigorous safety checks to ensure bugs don’t contain harmful toxins if we want to make them a major part of our food system.

It’s important to remember that living insects play vital roles in our lives. Trapping insects for our use can’t harm wild animals. If the precautions are kept in mind, though, insects might become an important resource in the near future.

Many people will be surprised by their taste. I could eat fried crickets in a stew but I’m also the type of person that loves to taste new things. Time to grab that insect cookbook.

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