Insects As Food

1.6.1 Insects as human food: entomophagy

In this section we review the increasingly popular study of insects as human food. Probably 1000 or more species of insects in more than 3 70 genera and 90 families are or have been used for food somewhere in the world, especially in central and southern Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America. Food insects generally feed on either living or dead plant matter, and chemically protected species are avoided. Termites, crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, ants, bee brood, and moth larvae are frequently consumed insects. Although insects are high in protein, energy, and various vitamins and minerals, and can form 5-10% of the annual animal protein consumed by certain indigenous peoples, western society essentially overlooks entomological cuisine.

Typical "western" repugnance of entomophagy is cultural rather than scientific or rational. After all, other invertebrates such as certain crustaceans and mollusks are favored culinary items. Objections to eating insects cannot be justified on the grounds of taste or food value. Many have a nutty flavor and studies report favorably on the nutritional content of insects,

Insects as food 11

Table 1.2 Proximate, mineral, and vitamin analyses of four edible Angolan insects (percentages of daily human dietary

requirements/100 g of insects consumed). (After Santos Oliviera et al. 1976, as adapted by DeFoliart 1989.)

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