The recent trend of promoting insect consumption as a sustainable food source is hard to ignore. A simple Google search reveals numerous articles with headlines such as “How Humans Eating Insects Can Save the Planet” and “Your Ancestors Probably Ate Insects. So What’s Bugging You?” However, it may be best to leave insect consumption to frogs and other natural predators.
According to recent research, the production of “beetleburgers” made from mealworms may soon be scaled up to address global food insecurity.
Mealworms, as larvae, have the potential to carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella and parasites. Whether they are dry-roasted, pan-fried, or raw, consuming too many of these insects could result in serious health problems and diseases.
“Mixed with sugar, the beetles supposedly taste just like real meat. They could also become alternatives to sausages or chicken nuggets,” researchers say. So, is the plan for people’s new food source to be beetles mixed with sugar? Delicious.
But what happens if you don’t want to eat insects? What if you think that they are gross? Well, soon, you might not have much of a choice. Many people are saying that lab-grown meat is the future of protein and that its mass production might make it a food staple.
To bring this idea to fruition, Ynsect, a French biotech firm, is devising a worldwide system of insect farms that will consist of both breeding centers and slaughterhouses. It has already established a test facility in Dole, located in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region of France.
Those who support this idea argue that insects can be converted into a variety of protein-rich products, such as powders, shakes, burgers, cereal bars, and even cooking oils, while having a significantly smaller impact on the environment compared to traditional farming methods.
Ynsect aims to produce 200,000 tons of insect-based foods annually, meaning that insects could potentially be a part of your future meals.
But a lot about this development is not sugar, spice, and everything nice. The individuals pushing for the masses to transition to an insect-based diet make insect consumption seem like a healthy alternative to real meat. However, upon further examination, this does not appear to be the case.
Eating insects poses several risks as they contain Chitin, a polysaccharide found in their exoskeletons that the human gut cannot break down. Chitin can lead to the development of various health issues such as cancer, parasites, fungi, allergies, and other illnesses. It also causes inflammation and immune responses in the body. It is a key contributor to these types of maladies and can be toxic to humans.
Scientists conducted a study on rats to evaluate the safety of consuming chitosan, a linear polysaccharide derived from chitin. The results revealed that prolonged consumption of chitin caused a depletion of essential vitamins and nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, the thymus weight of 9% of male and female rats in the study was significantly reduced compared to the control groups. The thymus is a delicate organ and changes in its weight can indicate damage or deterioration due to toxic exposure. These findings suggest that a diet high in chitin may lead to gradual organ damage.
According to a study published in Nature, researchers found that chitin has the ability to increase the amount of innate immune cells in tissue that are connected to allergies. This suggests that chitin can cause inflammation in the airways and may even contribute to the development of asthma.
It is important to consider the potential health risks associated with eating insects. Meat, on the other hand, is a vital source of essential nutrients and has been a key part of human diets for thousands of years. Traditional food sources such as meat have been proven safe and nutritious for humans. Therefore, instead of turning to insect consumption, we should focus on sustainable and responsible ways to continue producing traditional meat sources for human consumption. This may include implementing more sustainable farming practices and reducing food waste.