Entomophagy

Entomophagy

Human use of insects as food.

Entomophagy is the technical term for eating insects. The practice is common in many tropical countries where certain insect species grow to large sizes, and they are abundant and relatively easy to harvest year round. Certain insects as food are a source of proteins, vitamins, fats, and essential minerals. More than 2000 insect species are considered edible. Insects and other invertebrates are consumed by 3000 ethnic groups across 113 countries in Asia, Australia and Central and South America. Eighty percent of the world’s population consumes insects. The most common edible insects are moths, cicadas, beetles, mealworms, flies, grasshoppers and ants.

Nutrition

Insects have high crude protein levels of 40-75%, contain all essential amino acids, are rich in fatty acids and have a high proportion of dietary fiber. Insects are calorie dense. The calorific value of 94 insect species were found to be 50% higher than soybeans, 87% higher than maize, 63% higher than beef and 70% higher than fish. In mealworms the composition of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is comparable to that of fish. Other insects with ideal fatty acid ratios include house crickets, short-tailed crickets, Bombay locusts and scarab beetles. Nutritional content of insects depends on their diet, sex, life stage, origin and environmental factors as well as on the preparation and cooking methods used.

Insect farming

Insect farming could provide an alternative to livestock farming that uses less land, emits less greenhouse gases and provide a solution to global food insecurity. Insects are cold-blooded and therefore use less energy to maintain their internal body temperatures, which means they are efficient at converting their food into protein. Crickets need 17 kilograms of feed to produce 1 kilogram of meat and about 80 percent of the cricket is edible. To produce 1 kilogram of beef, a cow requires 8 kilograms of feed. Only 40 percent of the cow can be eaten.

The red palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus is farmed in Thailand to produce larvae, which are large grubs, that are sold as food. Thailand was one of the first countries to commercially farm crickets. More than 20,000 small-scale farmers were involved in cricket farming as of 2017. In North America there were no insect farms prior to 2012 and as of 2018 there were 18 insect farms. Production templates for mass rearing of crickets and mealworms as food for human consumption have come from production of these insects as feed for pets such as reptiles.

Companies

These companies are involved in the insect industry; many process them into food or feed, grow the insects, or supply technology for the industry.

Name
Location
Products
Industry
Link
Insect Species
Active
Online Store

Switzerland

Tech, Food, Feed

Yes

Norway

Insect Products, Food

Crickets

Namibia

Insect farming, Tech, Insect Products, Food

Hermetia illucens

No

South Africa

Animal feed

Insect farming, Tech, Insect Products, Feed

Hermetia illucens

Yes

No

USA

Flour (food grade), Snacks, Pet food

Tech, Insect Products, Food

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

Yes

Belgium

Whole insects

Insect Products, Food

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

No

USA

Flour (food grade)

Tech, Insect Products, Food, Feed

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

Yes

USA

Insect farming, Tech, Biocontrol, Insect Products

Multiple species

Yes

Netherlands

Tech, Food, Feed

Musca Domestica

Yes

New Zealand

Pet food

Insect Products, Food

Multiple species

Yes

No

France

Insect farming, Insect Products, Pet Food

Multiple species

Yes

Yes

USA

Insect farming, Pet Food

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

Columbia

Flour (food grade)

Insect Products, Food, Feed

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

Yes

Singapore

Flour (food grade)

Insect farming, Tech, Insect Products, Food, Feed

Multiple species

Yes

Yes

USA

Flour (food grade), Ready made meals

Insect farming, Tech, Insect Products, Food

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

Yes

China

Tech, Insect Products, Beauty

Bombyx mori

Yes

No

USA

Insect Products, Food

No

USA

Insect Products, Food

No

USA

Insect farming, Insect Products, Pet Food

Crickets

Yes

Yes

UK

Insect Products, Food

No

Germany

Protein supplements

Insect Products, Food

Acheta Domesticus

Yes

Yes

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Timeline

People

Name
Role
LinkedIn

Further reading

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

Documentaries, videos and podcasts

Title
Date
Link

Companies

Company
CEO
Location
Products/Services

Bugsolutely China

Massimo Reverberi

Shanghai

food

References

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