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Health Food of the month - Insects

May 2018

plate of insects
Insects are predicted to become the next super food

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Sour bread


Coconut Flour


Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Is it time we started looking at these protein rich food sources?

May is the time of year when the British countryside starts coming to life, with wildlife and indeed insects appearing once more on the land.

Most of us have seen TV programmes or other stories about people eating insects, or we may have seen a pan full of simmering tiny creatures on our travels in parts of Asia. Grasshoppers, crickets and woodworms are common snacks in Thailand while in Ghana termites can become a popular food when other foods are scarce.

But whether eating these tiny wriggly fast moving creatures from necessity or as a challenge, they have definitely not reached the level of a generally accepted food source in the UK – yet!

But things are changing as the high protein and nutritious contents of various insects are increasingly being confirmed by scientists and there is even talk of insects becoming the next top trend food. After all, they are cheap and readily available.

Entomophagy is the official word for eating insects...and according to the United Nations there are nearly 1,500 different types of insects that can be eaten.

Some insects of course are not suitable for human consumption so you need to know what you are doing. But in the UK now an increasing number of restaurants are beginning to serve insects, albeit at the moment as a bit of a gimmick. London’s Archipelago restaurant is said to serve a really tasty meal of pan fried chermoula crickets with quinoa, spinach and dried fruits. There is also a great online site which sells a huge range of prepared insects for snacking and eating.

So why are we bothering to add these odd creatures to our menus? The main reason is that not only are they generally very abundant but they are also very nutritious.

For instance, grasshoppers and crickets, which are top favourites especially in Asia, are full of protein. A 3.5 ounce serving of grasshoppers will contain up to 28 grams of protein, a high level for such a small food portion. Both grasshoppers and crickets are also very good sources of unsaturated fats and can also offer levels of iron.

A similar serving of ants will still provide a hefty 14 grams of protein plus iron and calcium; while beetles offer a higher 20 grams of protein in a 3.5 oz serving. Amounts can vary; evidently 3.5 ounces of tropical palmworm beetle can provide an astonishing 36 grams of protein.

Caterpillars, butterflies and moths, bees and wasps –y there is a huge range of insects that are fully edible and provide excellent nutritional levels. 

Generally they all can provide useful amounts of macro minerals such as magnesium, sodium and potassium; high levels of phosphorous and good sources of trace minerals including iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.

Insects also offer some great new flavours. Generally crickets are said to taste slightly nutty while ants have a saltier also bacon taste to them.

If you are ready to start cooking insects yourself, first you need to source reliable insects and it really is best, unless you know what you are doing, to buy in insects ready for cooking. Already in the UK there are shops such as Eat Grub which sell packets of grasshoppers; buffalo worms and other insects ready to cook (they also offer recipe ideas) and Sous Chef which offer prepared insects for cooking or snacking.

There are lots of recipe ideas available on line and also in printed books becoming available as the trend for insect eating continues to grow. One which received a lot of publicity is the Eat A Bug Cookbook by American chef David George Gordon. After the book was published he has become known as the Bug Chef and hit the American headlines after including in his book a recipe idea for Deep Fried Tarantulas! The book is available at Amazon UK.

Eat Grub: The Ultimate Insect Cookbook by Radia, Whippey and Holmes, is also available at Amazon and gives 55 great recipes using a variety of bugs. It includes ideas for desserts and cocktails and also how to use protein rich insect flour.

At the moment no high street supermarkets are offering insects...although Waitrose is selling edible flower petals which is a start in the natural foods direction.

However, as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says, with the growing world population, new ways to feed the billions are needed. Insects are now being looked at seriously as a way to help feed the world, so maybe now is the time to start experiencing this new type of food.



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