I don’t like shrimp because I tell people they are insects. But I do like ceviche. So mine is a shallow emotional reason for not eating shrimp.
It turns out maybe we should learn to like eating insects because it may be the only way we can feed ourselves in the future. Protein malnutrition affects over a billion people alive today. Insects are made of very nutritious proteins. Raising insects to eat would be vastly more economical and eco friendly than the animals and even plants that we eat now. Raising insects uses less water, less energy and less real estate and produces way less green house gas. Insects have the same amount of protein as beef: fried grasshoppers have three times as much. (1) Since they are cold blooded, they are four times as efficient in turning grass into protein.
However when told about these nutritional values and about the improved environmental impacts of raising and eating insects, people still don’t like eating them and it doesn’t affect their willingness to buy insect foods, though eating bugs seems to be more acceptable to males than females. (2) Some people think that insects are dirtier than the animals we mostly eat but if you knew what lobsters eat from the bottom of the ocean you might change your mind. Insects eat mostly plants. Also raising insects seems more humane. They like teeming and being overcrowded. I wonder what vegetarians would think.
We would have to highly process insects because they are so small but cicadas are about as big as Louisiana crawdads. If insects were as big as cows we would most likely already be eating them. Most people in the world, especially outside of the rich, western, “civilized” world already do eat insects.
One drawback of insects is that they have many of the same protein allergens as crustaceans – shrimp, lobsters, crabs, who share the same phylum of arthropods. Crustaceans are one of the big eight most common things people get allergic to.
OK I’ll try eating bugs. Who’s with me?!
1. Goodyear D. Grub. The New Yorker, September 6, 2021 reprinted from August 15&22, 2011.
2. Gurdian CE et al. Effect of Disclosed Information on Product Liking, Emotional Profile, and Purchase Intent: A Case of Chocolate Brownies Containing Edible-Cricket Protein. Foods 2021, 10(8), 1769; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10081769
3. DiTraglia J. Chitin, the new cellulose, Portsmouth Daily Times. August 7, 2018.
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- [email protected] or phone-354-6605.