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Sustainable Snacking: Are Insects The Future Of Nutrition?

The Biodiversity Project is upon us and we have a wealth of different events in the pipeline to encourage a conversation around sustainability, environmentalism and biodiversity.

To name a few, we have a series of events in partnership with the Anthropologists of Eating and weekly wildlife walks run by our onsite Biodiversity team, merge these concepts together and you have the ever-increasing trend of eating insects and arachnids (entomophagy). However, we’re not suggesting you eat any of our insects on campus of course…

It is estimated that up to 2 billion people eat a wide variety of insects regularly and attitudes in the UK are beginning to change in favour of this diet. Increasing amounts of people are trying different diets to be more sustainable including becoming vegetarian (no meat), vegan (no meat or animal products of any kind) and pescatarian (no meat but fish is edible). With this growing awareness there is the question surrounding arguably one of the most sustainable sources of protein on the planet – insects.

Why are insets sustainable?
With 1,900 insects currently eaten worldwide and beetles being the most popular, there is huge potential for a variety of different farming techniques to use less water and energy to produce huge amounts of nutrition.

In an article written by The Economist they determined “The bigger the beast, the more food, land and water is needed to produce the final edible product, resulting in higher greenhouse-gas emissions. A cow takes 8kg of feed to produce 1 kg of beef, but only 40% of the cow can be eaten. Crickets require just 1.7kg of food to produce 1 kg of meat, and 80% is considered edible.”

Insects can also help us reduce our current food waste by feeding on industry by products. This would mean that we could generate food by recycling food waste. They also take up less room to be farmed and even have a far less risk of becoming contaminated with zoological infections and diseases which currently infect our livestock.

Already too close to home?
The concept of eating insects might already be too close to home for some. According to the food defect action levels (i.e permitted levels of contamination in food) the following amounts are the maximum number of insect parts allowed before the food cannot be sold:

  • Chocolate: Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams (when 6 100g sun samples are examined)
  • Tomato paste, pizza and other sauces: Average of 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams OR 15 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots per 100 grams OR 2 or more maggots per 100 grams in a minimum of 12 subsamples.
  • Mushrooms, canned and dried: Average of over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid or 15 grams of dried mushrooms OR average of 5 or more maggots 2mm or longer per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid or 15 grams of dried mushrooms

So this concept of eating creepy crawlies might not be as far fetched as many people in the UK think.

Interested in giving it a try?
If this has all made you feel quite peckish and you fancy joining in on this sustainable practice, you can visit Jimini’s  restaurant or Archipelago in Selfridges Food Hall, Oxford Street, neither of which have been prepared from our new insect hotels on campus!

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