A video of Angelina Jolie cooking and eating spiders, crickets and scorpions with her children on a recent press trip to Cambodia has raised the question of whether eating insects and not livestock can help the world’s imminent food crisis and climate change problem.
Preparing the bugs with her children in a BBC World News video, Jolie said, “I think it’s (eating insects) always been a part of the diet (here), but then I think there is a truth to the survival during a war… People were being starved (and) they were able to survive on things like this.”
Angelina, who’s adopted son Maddox comes from Cambodia, reveals that she started on crickets when she first visited the country and then “moved up to tarantulas”. In the video she’s seen frying up some scorpions and eating their tails. She comments: “It’s actually really good, the flavour… It’s hard to chew!”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 20, 2017
Eat insects, save the world?
The world’s population is set to increase from 7,5 billion to 9 billion people in 2050. According to a report on NBC News, “the global production of meat will need to double in that time” to meet the increased demand for food, bringing with it the need for more land space and water and more greenhouse gas that will exacerbate the effects of climate change.
A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found “that current farming and food production practices are unsustainable”. The FAO suggested that edible insects are “a viable, untapped resource” that could help feed the growing population.
The benefits of eating insects
Insects are already on the menu around for an estimated two billion people around the world – primarily in Africa, Asia and South America.
Some of the pros of eating insects include:
- Insects are rich in protein and fibre and are good sources of healthy fats
- Insect farming is very compact and requires much fewer resources like land, food and water
- Insects are much more efficient at converting feed into mass. According to the BBC, “insects can convert 2kg of feed into 1kg of insect mass, whereas cattle require 8kg of feed to produce 1kg of body weight gain”.
- Insect farming is much cheaper than conventional livestock farming making it a sustainable practice in poorer nations
- Ongoing research has found that insects pose a lower risk of transferring disease to humans than livestock
- Insects are farmed without anti biotics or steroids
In Western countries, Entomophagy (eating insects), is a very niche practice mainly due to the “eew” factor of eating creepy crawlies, but products like cricket powder, insect protein bars, chocolate mealworm spread, pizza toppings and insect lolly pops are slowly entering the market.
Cricket ice cream anyone?
It seems insects are becoming somewhat of a trend in foodie circles. In a Mystery Box challenge on the most recent series of MasterChef Australia, contestant Elise Franciskovic came out tops with her Cricket Caramel Semifreddo with Lime Curd and Betel Leaf Crumb.