#FactFriday: Eating insects can help save the planet. How?

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#FactFriday: Eating insects can help save the planet. How?

Hello readers,

Welcome to #FactFriday on CleanbuildVoices!

Did you know that the practice of eating insects is called entomophagy? This might probably sound gross to many but insects have served as a food source for people for thousands of years.

In today’s edition of #FactFriday, we will explore how edible insects are gaining recognition as human food with the potential of contributing to sustainability, food security, and the reduction of malnutrition.

Let me mention that not all insects are edible. However, if you ignore the gross factor, there are more than 1,400 edible species of insects the most popular being crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms.

Why should anyone resort to eating insects? Consider the nutritional value of edible insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms. They are rich in protein and contain significantly higher sources of minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium than regular beef.

Apart from the nutrients, they require less land, water, and feed than traditional livestock. What’s more, insect farming and processing produce significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Not only do insects produce less waste, their poop, called frass, serves as excellent fertilizer and soil improver.

Currently, a growing number of African countries are in the throes of extreme hunger and malnutrition caused by climate change. In some others, insecurity, conflict, and low agricultural production are factors driving the food crisis.

According to Rwanda-born Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ special envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit, farming insects could provide an elegant solution to the intertwined crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, hunger, and malnutrition.

“Insects are 60% dry weight protein. I mean, honestly, why wouldn’t we use them?” But we have to be able to put them in a form that is acceptable to different cultures and different societies,” she said.

Food culture and attitude shift

Long ago, people used to believe outrageous things about some of today’s delicacies. Interestingly though food culture has been known to change.

During the renaissance period in Italy (about 500 years ago), Italians thought tomatoes were poisonous. Fast forward to the 1800s, Americans considered lobsters to be trash food fit for prisoners. Not many cultures ate raw fish decades ago; now sushi is all the rave.

While the practice of eating insects is not new to us in Africa, there is still a reluctance to use insects as food especially among the younger generation many of whom are squeamish.

However, with continuous awareness about the real value of insects, there is hope that more people will shed their aversion and want to try out edible insects.

Watch this space as we’ll be back for our next #FactFriday special.



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