An Overlooked But Abundant Resource For Food Shortage

Edible insects are a part of many countries’ diets. For example, in Ecuador, Orthoptera (cricket) and fried beetles are eaten as snacks. Have you ever thought about the nutritional benefits of edible bugs? Because they have high levels of protein and nutrients, edible insects are considered superfoods. 

According to the World Health Organization, in 2010, Orthoptera protein is an excellent source of energy, protein (20-70% of total protein), fat (10-50%) and essential minerals and vitamins necessary for human nutrition. 

How the edible insects are raised, processed or combined with other ingredients can affect their nutritional value. Eating Orthoptera protein is a great source of fiber, as well as nine amino-acids such as vitamin B12 and calcium. It also contains omega 6. 

Consumers are becoming more conscious of their food choices and looking for brands that have a positive social and environmental impact. Because they use less space, water and emit less CO2 emissions than other protein sources, crickets are a sustainable protein. They are therefore a healthy option for building muscle mass and digestion. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Orthoptera protein is good for muscle mass. “1 kg of live animal weight in a typical United States production system requires the following amount of feed: 2.5 kg for chicken, 5 kg for pork, and 10 kg for beef. Insects require far less feed. For example, the production of 1 kg of live animal weight of crickets requires as little as 1.7 kg of feed.” (Collavo et al., 2005 cited by FAO, 2013)

Crickets also convert food into protein 12x faster than cows. 

Because crickets are cold-blooded, they don’t require as much food to keep their bodies warm when they are killed. Grounding and dehydration are the key ingredients in cricket protein powder production. Grounding crickets means that the entire exoskeleton, respiratory and digestive systems, which contain the chitin, are used. “Insects also have significant amounts of crude fiber, the most prominently in the form chitin. This is derived from their exoskeleton. 

Chitin is an insoluble fiber that has potential prebiotic benefits for human health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria species that crickets encourage to grow in the intestines. They make crickets 80x more digestible than eating red meat. Also, crickets produce methionine and threonine which are essential amino acids in certain cereals and legumes. 

Despite all these benefits, consumers still have a lot to overcome before they can adopt edible insects into their daily diet. High animal numbers and intensive animal production can lead to serious health problems. Crickets are unique in that they have protein and energy from fat. They also have vitamins and amino acids. It is crucial to know the origins and effects of the food we eat. 

Still have concerns about eating edible insects? If yes, you can compare the nutritional and ecological benefits of crickets and any other edible insects to animal protein.


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