By Keya Mukherjee Ph.D. and Vittorio Fattori Ph.D.
As the global population rises there is an increased need to find solutions to adequately feed the world. This is in the context of growing awareness about the impacts of conventional agriculture on the environment, effects of climate change and drive for healthier living. All this has prompted a heightened interest in exploring sources of food that are both nutritious and environmentally sustainable. Some of these new food sources are explored in a recent FAO publication entitled, Thinking about the future of food safety – a foresight report (2022). One food source that has garnered steady attention recently – from media, consumers, national agencies to private sector – is edible insects.
While largely absent from western diets to date, consumption of insects is not new. In fact, entomophagy (or consumption of insects as food) has been traditionally practiced in several regions of the world for generations and is deeply rooted in numerous cultural customs and religious beliefs. The nutritional value of insects is species dependent. Overall, insects tend to be rich in protein, dietary fibre, beneficial fatty acids and various micronutrients. Apart from improving food and nutrition security, selling insects, gathered from the wild or reared, can be a source of livelihood diversification with economic benefits, especially for rural communities (FAO, 2013).