David Walters

Khao Pad Malang

Why I decided to start eating insects


I recently made the decision to give up beef. I'm not sure how long it will last as I love nothing more than sinking my teeth into a nice juicy steak. I have always been a health conscious person but my decision to give up beef was more to do with the environmental impact of beef consumption rather than the health issues around red meat.

I don't have any need for beef really and to be honest the meat in Thailand isn't anything to miss particularly. Beef is more a luxury than anything else but after learning that it takes up 28 times more land and 11 times more water than pork or chicken I decided that it was a luxury that I could do without.

I have a pretty healthy diet. I exercise a lot, I don't smoke or drink and I much prefer a good dinner to a piece of cheesecake or an ice cream, so giving up beef was purely to do with its environmental impact. With human induced climate change now a certainty, I am probably too late to have any chance of reversing the affects and even though I know it will one day kill me, I'm still too lazy to get up and turn off that forgotten light in the kitchen.

I find myself trying harder these days though and I am much more aware of the simple things that help; the ones that don't require any more thought or energy, such as turning off the tap when brushing my teeth.

In my pursuit to feel better about myself, I have recently become quite interested in the idea of eating insects. Being from the UK, where it is not "the done thing" I squirm a little when I see people tucking into a bag of grasshoppers, but this is probably just down to my upbringing and conditioning.

When I first arrived in Thailand and probably for the subsequent eight years after, I turned my nose up at all those bug trays at the side of the road. It doesn't really make sense. I have no problem eating shrimp, which are essentially the insects of the sea so why should I have a problem eating insects?

The UK is well behind a lot of other countries, who already eat a whole range of foods that we would turn our noses up at. It isn't just Asia, but many European countries already enjoy insects in a range of recipes.

Watching science videos in Youtube turned me on to the idea of eating insects. They are a much more sustainable food product than even poultry, converting 2kg of feed into 1kg of produce. According to this article "pigs produce 10-100 times more greenhouse gases per kg of weight than mealworms". Not only that but the nutritional content is far superior to our more traditional meats.

Saying I am interested doesn't mean I am completely ready to commit. As for the bug trays, I am still not sure about the cleanliness of their sources. Are they farmed or just picked up off the streets and out of the sewers? It will take me a while to get used to it but I think I can do it. Maybe I will start with insect flour as I can't actually see their legs, maybe make some cookies and go from there.

ASAP science have a great video on the benefits of eating insects and there are now many ways to incorporate them into our diets 


I work at The British Early Years Centre in Bangkok. We also have a great blog with plenty of topics on teaching children, fun activities, etc, etc.




Comments

There are some efforts being made in the US towards making insects an accepted food source. There is a protein bar made from crickets that's being put out and the protein from the crickets is basically an all purpose protein powder that could see much more varied uses.

I wonder about the farming methods as well. Grasshopper and grub farms must exist to fill the demand it seems, but I cant picture one.

By AIDC , http://www.aidcinc.com (13th August 2014)

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