Worm Meal: Time to consider the benefits of entomophagy?

By: |
January 15, 2021 6:00 AM

EU has just certified the yellow mealworm as safe for human consumption

Indeed, there are nearly 2,000 insect species known to be eaten by humans. The mealworm itself is eaten in many South Asian countries, while parts of Africa are partial to the mopane worm.

Digest this: The EU food safety agency has certified the yellow mealworm (not actually a nematode, but the larva of a species of darkling beetle)as being, you guessed it right, safe to be a part of your meal. The EU is late to the (dining) table. Many may still keck at the prospect, but there are cultures in many parts of the world for which insects are a buzz the tastebuds crave. Indeed, there are nearly 2,000 insect species known to be eaten by humans. The mealworm itself is eaten in many South Asian countries, while parts of Africa are partial to the mopane worm.

Packing protein and fibre, and said to taste like peanuts, mealworms are however contraindicated for those with certain allergies. While the ‘insect as food’ industry is still in the larval stage, companies across the EU are readying to enter this potential multi-million market—as many as15 applications are pending before the authorities, of which four are in the final stages of approval.

Some food and nutrition scientists have been pushing entomophagy as a sustainable, cheap diet that can help the cause of nutrition security around the world. While animal products form the bulk of proteinaceous food acceptable to the Western palate, the meat and poultry industry have been tied to significant greenhouse gas emissions and serious public health risks.

At the same time, low-income nations, especially those struggling with nutrition-sufficiency, could benefit greatly from insect-consumption. Arnold van Huis, a Dutch tropical entomologist, says in an interview published in The Wire that one-third of the global agricultural produce and food “that is wasted currently could be used to sustain insect farming.” The world would do well chew over insect-eating.

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