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.”