Flying insects are ‘shrimps of the sky’ will be on EU menus

 European Union types in Brussels believe that insects could be a vital source of nutrition that will not only solve food shortages but also help save the environment, so they have launched a €3 million ($3.99 million) project to promote the eating of insects.

Proponents of entomophagy – insect eating – argue that bugs are a low-cholesterol, low-fat, protein-rich food source. According to one study, small grasshoppers offer 20 per cent protein and just 6 per cent fat, to lean ground beef’s 24 per cent protein and 18 per cent fat.

Crickets are also said to be high in calcium, termites rich in iron, and a helping of giant silkworm moth larvae apparently provides all the daily copper and riboflavin requirements.

The European Commission is offering the money to the research institute with the best proposal for investigating ”insects as novel sources of proteins”. It wants research into quality and safety, including potential allergic reactions and the sort of proteins consumed.

Professor Marcel Dicke, leading a team at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, which is applying for the research grant, said: ”By 2020, you will be buying insects in supermarkets. We will be amazed that in 2011 people didn’t think it was going to happen.

He said bugs were biologically similar to shellfish and that flying insects should be regarded as ”shrimps of the sky.”

Todd Dalton, of Edible, which supplies insects for human consumption to Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, said: ”The EU is wasting taxpayers’ money. People aren’t suddenly going to start eating insects because the EU is spending money researching. It would be great if they did, but our eating habits won’t change until our stigma about consuming insects is removed.”

Michelle Mazur, guest barfblogger: Insect, the other white meat

Earlier this month Doug talked about entomophagy, the practice of eating insects as food. It’s no mystery that many cultures eat bugs for nutrition.  However this is not the case for the cultures of the United States and Europe, where not only are bugs unappetizing, but there is an entire market devoted to their extermination.

Western culture has put a certain social taboo on insects in general.  If a cockroach is found in a kitchen of a restaurant, health inspectors will shut the place down.  But who can blame them?  Most Americans are brought up to find bugs disgusting and dirty.

As part of an introductory entomology class in my undergraduate work, I had the chance to try cookies containing dried crickets and salsa containing live mealworms.  I definitely was not excited about tasting either of them, but you would be surprised what some students would do for extra credit.  After sampling the supposedly “tasty treats” I have to admit that they weren’t half bad; in fact they tasted completely normal.

Just as a cook might add tofu to a noodle dish, there is also the option of earthworms or grasshoppers for an extra dose of protein.  And a large number of countries have a booming market for raising insects, just as there is a market here in Kansas for raising beef cattle.

Not only would there be a little more variety in food options, but also the option to “go green” in other ways than driving a hybrid.  Multiple studies and articles have been written about how insects are much more efficient converters of energy compared to typical farm animals.  Bryan Walsh of has a terrific article about how environmentally friendly insects can be used as a food source.

Now I’ve read the articles too, but the first large hurdle to jump over will be the cultural taboo.  The food industry of Western culture will have a hard time changing “Waiter, waiter, there is a fly in my soup!” into “Waiter, waiter, I do not have enough flies in my soup!”