Insects, a food alternative.
Entomophagy presents itself as a real nutritional alternative. Thus, eating insects brings real nutritional benefits to the human organism.
First of all, it has been proven that edible insects contain a phenomenal amount of nutrients that are essential for the growth of the human body. Indeed, insects are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. The latter also contain between 55% and 85% moisture.
1. An important source of protein: the main argument
The insect is a food rich in proteins and therefore in amino acids. It is considered a food of high biological value, which means that its proteins are of very good quality. We can see from the previous table that for every 100 grams of grasshoppers or locusts, the protein intake is higher than that of beef.
It should be pointed out that proteins have certain essential functions, such as the synthesis of human body tissues. It is therefore clear that our body needs protein, and that the insect appears to be the ideal candidate to replace meat on this point.
2. Vitamins are also invited
Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the body and each has a specific role: Vitamin intake from insects
As with a normal diet, it is necessary to vary the species of insects eaten so as to benefit from all the vitamins. Without them, the human organism can suffer disorders resulting from dietary deficiencies.
3. Presence of essential fatty acids
The lipids present in food have an energetic, structural and functional role. They are made up of fatty acids that are essential to the body. Humans do not produce them directly, which is why they have to eat foods rich in fatty acids, and many species of insects contain a lot of them.
It can be seen that insects are low in lipids, unlike beef. This seems to be an interesting point for dieters. On the other hand, they do possess one essential fatty acid: linoleic acid, more commonly known as omega-6, which is involved in the manufacture of the cell membrane.
4. A high mineral content
Minerals also have a structural and functional role, so they are essential to the body. The table above shows that some insect species provide almost twice as much mineral as beef. The most important minerals are calcium and iron: Insect mineral intake
Eating insects becomes interesting when you know that the calcium intake is high, whereas it is relatively low in meat or fish.
A substitute for the future!
Insects, through their nutritional intake, seem to be a substitute for the future. They are suitable for all kinds of diets and may be used in the future in dietary as well as medical programmes.
Ecology: a variable to be taken into consideration
In view of the increase in the world's population, meat production and consumption present real constraints and have an influence on the environment: in particular through air and soil pollution and deforestation. Faced with this, many solutions are proposed such as reducing meat consumption, reducing the use of GMOs and insect nutrition.
1. The ecological virtues of edible insects
Compared to traditional animal husbandry, the "cultivation" of insects is very little polluting. Thus, cattle breeding requires a high consumption of oil, water and plants compared to insect breeding. In fact, 8 to 10 kilograms of plants are needed to produce one kilogram of calves, while only 2 kilograms are needed to produce one kilogram of insects.
As a result of this energy reduction, insect rearing tends towards an economy of the planet's natural resources.
But this is not the only advantage. Indeed, the production of one kilogram of mealworms results in the emission of 10 to 100 times less greenhouse gases than the production of one kilogram of pork. Since the production of greenhouse gases is the main cause of climate change, this reduction is not negligible.
The production of insects is thus part of an eco-sustainable approach. It is also important to emphasise that these farms respect the environmental and nutritional needs of insects.
2. Importance of this species
This is a concrete fact: insects occupy an important and dominant place in our planet's ecosystem. They account for a considerable proportion of the species currently known on earth, 70% to be precise, of our planet's biodiversity. More than a million different insect species have been recorded and 2211 species are already listed as edible!
3. Insect farming: an ecological promise?
An example: Micronutris is the first European company specialising in the breeding and production of products based on edible insects. The company's objective is to promote sustainable food through insects, while controlling the environmental impact of the production, processing and packaging chain.
Raw materials are only sourced through short channels, and recycling is part of the company's ethos.
In addition, the insect food is organically grown. The company certifies that the growth of their insects is 100% natural, with impeccable hygiene conditions.
In spite of the company's commitment to ecological responsibility, certain defects persist. Especially with the importation of insects from producing countries, as some companies may do. Indeed, financially, this solution is attractive but does not contribute to the respect of the environment, as can be the case with Micronutris. The circuit then becomes longer, resulting in an increase in pollution and energy consumption. As a result, the ecological promise is no longer kept.
At a time when many food scandals are breaking out (mad cow disease, mercury fish, horse meat...), insects can present themselves as a real alternative to our protein needs. And this even if our education and our culture have led us to discredit insects as food, even though this practice could meet the demands of demographic change and environmental problems.
Scientists are unanimous: "these small bugs could well be the solution to humanity's food needs in the medium term and could enable us to improve the environment in the long term". This is why we need to be vigilant and eat only locally bred and produced insects.