16 May 2013
The United Nations recently released a report recommending the farming of insects for food. The report notes that insects are highly nutritious and healthy with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and minerals. With concerns about animal diseases like “mad cow,” genetically modified foods, overuse of antibiotics, cruelty to animals, lack of space for farming, management of animal waste, etc., the UN thinks insects may be part of the answer.
“Insect farming” isn’t new – think of bees, silkworms and crickets you can find at the local pet store for lizard food. However, the concept of large scale farming insects for food is relatively new.
High soy prices and increasing aquaculture is pushing research into developing insect protein for aquaculture and poultry – if not directly for human consumption.
In many countries, including the US, the lack of a legal framework on insects as food and feed may be a major barrier to investment and development. The UN report noted concerns regarding:
- Unclear regulations and legislation on farming and selling insects for human consumption;
- Difficulty in understanding information regarding processing and quality;
- Little networking among producers;
- A lack of awareness among consumers and buyers about existing markets leading to low demand; and
- It is difficult to market insects for human consumption because they are perceived to be unsanitary. (Or as we call it in my family, the “ick” factor).
Would you eat a tofu made from bugs? It makes me think of the old movie “Soylent Green“ – it’s bugs!