Entomophagy: eating insects

Entomophagy: eating insects

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Entomophagy, the art of licking your mustache munching on insects. Yes, poetically or ironically speaking, that's what it is, but it's no joke, for how the world is going and for the tragic consequences that our "spoiled" diets are having on the environment.

Entomophagy, human, also seems to be a European horizon, as well as an already established world reality. After Expo Milan 2015 and the novelties discussed also on this occasion, a few steps from our kitchens with steaming dishes of something else, let's analyze clearly what we talk about when we say entomophagy.

Entomophagy: what it is

L'entomophagy (from the Greek éntomos, "insect", and phăgein, "to eat") is the diet that involves eat insects, using them regularly as a food. For a large number of animals (insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals and microorganisms) it is nothing so strange, from the anthropological point of view there are many more prejudices, especially in our continent of Europe.

Yet it is a widespread practice among the inhabitants of planet Earth, just look around. A little more around the 4 or 5 states bordering us. You discover tastes or fashions that look naturally atentomophagy. And then there is not a few that they eat insects out of pure necessity, to supplement the nutritional requirements of proteins.

If in Europe you pass by poor diffusion As a taboo, from country to country, the consumption of insect meat by us humans is frequent in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. A novelty? I don't think so, given thatentomophagy it has no other than prehistoric origins, it existed as a human practice before hunting and agriculture. We seem to have forgotten about it and today we turn up our noses, yet our ancestors survived by handfuls of ants, beetle larvae, lice, ticks and mites.

According to FAO today the edible insects they are just under 2,000 and are an important food source, not a whim for eccentrics, for at least 2 billion people. To end up in the pot more frequently are for example grasshoppers, crickets, termites, ants, beetle larvae, moths, caterpillars, pupae, spiders, tarantulas and scorpions. FAO also talks about over 10 tons of grasshoppers eaten every year in Thailand, and Algeria is not joking either. Termites are strong in Zaire, more than a ton a month, caterpillars and butterflies depopulate 3 tons a year in Mexico.


Said as it is now, it is not easy for us Italians to imagine what it means. Taking a short tour of the world stripped of prejudices and armed with curiosity and appetite, we taste the specialties of ento-gastronomy in vogue today. The last ones heard, personally, are the farfalle with tomato sauce, pesto, pitti di peperoni and fried locusts, "Ants and pineapple" and, as an Italian chef, locusts braised in red wine.

The country is a pioneer in the field ofEuropean entomophagy is Holland which was the first to accept cricket and grasshopper farms to use them both as feed for animals and as food to serve at our tables. Today in Dutch supermarkets you can find chocolate bars and some types of insects e “Bugs-organic food”Made from insects such as mealworms, locusts and buffalo worms. Today Holland is not the only country wherehuman entomophagy is welcome, the number is growing, Italy is struggling, in an evolving situation.

Leaving our continent we arrive in the Chinese countryside where common insects are silkworm pupae, cicadas, crickets, giant beetles and cockroaches. You can then find them wandering among “street food” stalls offering fried foods based on ants and scorpions, as well as marinated silkworms and cockroaches. Eating insects in China it is therefore quite common.

Fried, boiled or grilled, to eliminate parasites, insects are also on the streets and in the markets of Thailand, Including Bangkok. Thais practice there'Entomophagy and the "insect collection " as if they were mushrooms, berries and snails: they take them at night and use them as a protein contribution to add in soups and broths, often. In Cambodia there are similarly in markets and delicatessens, trays that invite toentomophagy full of fried spiders and various insects. Also in Thailand and Cambodia therefore eat insects it is a very widespread practice.

We pass in southern Africa where the mopane worms (moth larva), fresh or dried, pickled and in cans and jars with tomato sauce. And then in Angola, termites are eaten and in Nigeria a silkworm-like larva is widespread. To combine all the colors, even with butterflies, in entomophagy are the Mexicans.

Ants, bees, butterflies and larvae are usually in the dishes of the citizens who insert the grasshoppers even in the classics and well known to us tacos, and then wipe their breath with small insects, as if they were mint-flavored candies. Even in distant Oceania, and in Japan, theentomophagy it is known and widespread, with termites, lepidoptera and beetle larvae in the first case, again grasshoppers or bees and wasps in the second.

Eating insects: the benefits for the environment

They drop the Water consumption and of land for their production, cut down the greenhouse gas emissions: insects are a source of protein that loves the environment, stubbornness to condemn theentomophagy human is useless, it is at the door. Then everyone will make their own personal choices, but a no without ifs and buts for the whole human race is absurd. And irrational.

At most, insects are also cheap, a nutritionally complete food and provide up to 80% of bioavailable proteins, as well as minerals, essential fats and fiber. Already there'Entomophagy it is a practice accepted by at least 2 billion people and will increase rapidly in the near future.

FAO estimates that by 2050 world food production will have to increase by at least 70%, by 2030 at least 39 million tons of meat will be consumed: where do we put all these pastures or farms? There is no space on Earth and at the moment there are no Martian cows, so if we want we can get used to the idea ofentomophagy as a practice eco friendly, green.

To help us become aware of all this, without obligation, but kindly explaining that we cannot continue to feed ourselves in this way, the current food system has a unsustainable impact on the earth's natural resources and biodiversity, there is a book. Marco Ceriani, founder of Italbugs, graduated in Food Preparation Sciences, now active at PTP Science Park of Lodi, he wrote "He gets caught he knows how to say insect.The new era of food. " and tells how and why it is time to redesign the whole global food system.

For example, because now a European feeds as if he had 2-3 planets at his disposal and an American 4 or 5. After many years of work, Ceriani is excellently able to paint the new one before our eyes with knowledge of the facts and brilliant intelligence. food scenario, entomophagy including and how. It helps and helps us with recipes, tables and nutritional information. Also interesting are the testimonies of those who are already a devotee ofentomophagy.

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