Did you know that we, humans, are indeed insectivorous? This is perhaps the greatest irony of the cultural avoidance of edible insects. Dear reader, be ready because this book will demonstrate to you the feasibility and value of insects as a sustainable commodity for food.
Of the more than ten book resources about edible insects that I have had in my possession, this is for sure the most enjoyable and informative one so far. And I say it without having even finished it yet!
The optimism that this book emanates is nothing comparable to any other informative resources on insects as food and feed, it points out the reasons that have been separating humans from this important and delicious source of protein, and provide us with the next steps to follow to include these creatures in our meals. It is difficult not to agree on this initiative after just reading some paragraphs. In fact, the EU already positioned in favour after recently declaring Tenebrio Molitor (mealworms) safe to eat.
The authors state that we are in an epoch that has been termed as the “Anthropocene”, meaning that we are in an era in which we must recognize the irreversible impacts that our existence has on the environment in which we live and the imperative need for us to acknowledge this and take responsibility. In this context, insects may play a significant role in our agriculture and our way to think.
Insects played a major role in our collective past, shaping what it means to be human. Indeed, every primate is, to some degree, insectivorous.
Proof of insects forming part of our evolution is given in the book when it described that bone tools for termite extraction were found in early human sites. The authors state that developing new technologies for producing and increase human knowledge on edible insects is nothing else than a logical extension of our past.
By 2050 the global population is predicted to grow to nine billion people, and for meeting the demand for animal-derived protein a projected 72% rise in meat production over the next 35 years is necessary. Currently though, approximately the area of South America is being used for crop production, while even more land is being used to raise livestock. In fact, livestock systems currently occupy 45% of the world’s surface area and contribute 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet the world’s future food security and sustainability needs, it is clear that food production must grow substantially while, at the same time, agriculture’s environmental footprint must shrink dramatically.
Even the Pope of the Holy See recently published an encyclical warning of the dangers and moral imperative of protecting the earth and its natural environment.
As the authors of the book suggest, by forming an alliance with insects instead of an adversary relationship, the dilemma of increasing population and calory supply can be solved.
If we look at the present, we work hard on creating new pesticides capable of eliminating insects that harm our crops, and that is good. But authors in this book suggest a different scenario in which we think of mealworms not as an invasive species known to feed on crops, but as a more efficient, water-wise, land-wise, and energy-wise species than the crop itself.
But that is not the only benefit that can be extrapolated from insects. According to the book, they also possess a great feed conversion efficacy that is well above that of beef and can be vertically produced for enhanced production performance. In fact, it is reported that an EU initiative found that 1 hectare of land could produce yearly 150 tons of insect protein in comparison to less than a ton of soybeans for the same area.
Apart from the history of insects as food, the book also focuses on other relevant aspects such as the nutritional features of different edible insect species, traditional and technical approaches for insect production, food safety, current legislation, and a discussion on the connection of edible insects to some specific food allergies.
In short, despite being published under ScienceDirect, the large bibliographic database of scientific and medical publications, I’d dare to say it is indeed a book that could be read by any adult with a basic science background. This optimistic and curious book will give you the keys to understand a critical and necessary step in the way we study and experiment with food, and how insects are critical for our environment, and mandatory in the meals of the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Aaron T. Dossey is a life-long, self-taught Entomologist and enthusiast of Entomology and nature, as anyone who has ever known him can strongly attest. He is a pioneer in the processing of insects for human consumption who brought together a team of international experts to write this book, which effectively summarizes the current state-of-the-art, providing helpful recommendations on which readers can build companies, products, and research programs.