THE FU­TURE OF FOOD?

Asian Geographic - - In Focus -

We are in des­per­ate need of “greener” food choices. Ed­i­ble in­sects are ob­tained ei­ther by wild har­vest­ing, semi-do­mes­ti­ca­tion or farm­ing. In­sect farm­ing is per­ceived as an in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive an­swer to some of the world’s big­gest ques­tions re­gard­ing food se­cu­rity and pro­duc­tion. Compared to cat­tle, they of­fer a much lower eco­log­i­cal foot­print, yet have sim­i­lar pro­tein pro­files.

In­sects re­quire con­sid­er­ably less land and wa­ter than con­ven­tional farm an­i­mals, yet emit a frac­tion of the green­house gases. They have shorter life spans and re­pro­duc­tive cy­cles; they can be farmed quickly, and in large num­bers, over small ar­eas. Some ar­gue that in­sect farm­ing is more hu­mane, as a num­ber of ed­i­ble in­sects will nat­u­rally con­gre­gate.

In­sects also re­quire a frac­tion of the feed. As cold-blooded crea­tures, they have high feed-meat con­ver­sion rates. Crick­ets, for ex­am­ple, can con­vert roughly two kilo­grams of feed into a one kilo­gram weight in­crease, while a cow would re­quire eight kilo­grams.

While they’re not much to look at, in­sects are, in fact, highly nu­tri­tious. Stud­ies have found some ed­i­ble species con­tain higher lev­els of omega-3 fatty acids and min­er­als than con­ven­tional meats, along with com­pa­ra­ble amounts of pro­tein.

In­sect har­vest­ing and farm­ing also of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­proved so­cial wel­fare, es­pe­cially in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Min­i­mal tech­nique and equip­ment is re­quired, and such ac­tiv­i­ties would both improve di­ets and cre­ate jobs. This grow­ing industry presents op­tions for en­trepreneur­ship in tran­si­tional and de­vel­oped coun­tries world­wide.

One man who be­lieves that in­sects could help feed the world is Lau­rent Chel­lapermal, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Next-food, the largest in­ter­na­tional sup­plier of ed­i­ble in­sects and owner of the big­gest farm in Asia. Lau­rent was bit­ten by the en­to­mophagy bug when liv­ing in Aus­tralia, study­ing aqua­cul­ture. “At first I wanted to use in­sects to make fish meal. Then, when study­ing crick­ets, I found out that they are widely eaten in some parts of the world. After more re­search I learned that they are one of the most sus­tain­able food sources around, plus a very healthy al­ter­na­tive.”

So, he set up Next-food. Lau­rent be­lieves the idea of eat­ing in­sects will catch on – once peo­ple get past the psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers. “It might be like sushi, where ev­ery­one first thought that eat­ing raw fish was gross; now sushi is ev­ery­where. Any­way, in com­par­i­son to prawns, crick­ets are beau­ti­ful!” Eat­ing them is a lot bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment, too. ag

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