THINGS I bet you didn’t know
Good afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program and a five minute trip into the amazing world of technology. This is Ben Harrison.
Today’s topic, to some, may seem a bit disgusting, but as the human population continues to inch closer to 8 billion people, feeding all those hungry mouths will become increasingly difficult. We may not like the idea of certain solutions to the world hunger problem, but sooner or later we have to do something about this growing problem.
Have you ever heard the word Entomophagy? (ento-moph-a-gee) I didn’t think so.
Entomophagy is the scientific name for insect eating. There are more than 1,450 recorded species of edible insects. Many species of insects are lower in fat and higher in protein and have a better food-to-meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken.
A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.
As if to underscore that claim, a group of students from McGill University in Montreal, Canada has won the 2013 Hult Prize, for producing a protein-rich flour made from insects. The prize gives the students $1 million in seed money to begin creating what they call Power Flour.
Last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report titled, “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.” The document details the health and environmental benefits derived from a diet supplemented by insects, Here’s a list of seven edible insects you may soon find on your dinner plate.
Mopane caterpillars — the larval stage of the emperor moth are common throughout the southern part of Africa. Harvesting of mopane caterpillars is a multi-million dollar industry in the region, where women and children generally do the work of gathering the plump, little insects.
The caterpillars are traditionally boiled in salted water, then sun-dried; the dried form can last for several months without refrigeration, making them an important source of nutrition in lean times. And few bugs are more nutritious: Whereas the iron content of beef is 6 mg per 100 grams of dry weight, mopane caterpillars pack a whopping 31 mg of iron per 100 grams. They’re also a good source of potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, manganese and copper.
Chapulines are grasshoppers and are widely eaten throughout southern Mexico. They’re often served roasted (giving them a satisfying crunch) and flavored with garlic, lime juice and salt, or with guacamole or dried chili powder. The grasshoppers are known as rich sources of protein; some claim that the insects are more than 70 percent protein.
Researchers have noted that the gathering of grasshoppers is an attractive alternative to spraying pesticides in fields of alfalfa and other crops. Not only does this eliminate the environmental hazards associated with pesticide sprays, it also gives the local people an extra source of nutrition and income, from the sale of grasshoppers.]
Among the aboriginal people of Australia, the witchetty grub is a dietary staple. When eaten raw, the grubs taste like almonds; when cooked lightly in hot coals, the skin develops the crisp, flavorful texture of roast chicken. And the witchetty grub is chock full of oleic acid, a healthful omega-9 monounsaturated fat.
The grubs are harvested from underground, where they feed upon the roots of Australian trees such as eucalyptus and black wattle trees.
Want to get rid of the termites gnawing at your floorboards? Just do like they do in South America and Africa: Take advantage of the rich nutritional quality of these insects by frying, sun-drying, smoking or steaming termites in banana leaves.
Termites generally consist of up to 38 percent protein, and one particular Venezuelan species, is 64 percent protein. Termites are also rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty acids and amino acids.
African palm weevil
A delicacy among many African tribes, the palm weevil is collected off the trunks of palm trees. About 4 inches long and two inches wide, the weevils are easily pan-fried because their bodies are full of fats, though they’re also eaten raw.
Their name certainly doesn’t sound appetizing, but stink bugs are consumed throughout Asia, South America and Africa. The insects are a rich source of important nutrients, including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
Because stink bugs release a bad smell, they are not usually eaten raw unless the head is first removed, which discards their scent-producing secretions. Otherwise, they are roasted, or soaked in water and sun-dried. As an added benefit, the soaking water — which absorbs the noxious secretions — can then be used as a pesticide to keep termites away from houses.
The larvae of the mealworm beetle is one of the only insects consumed in the Western world: They are raised in the Netherlands for human consumption (as well as for animal feed), partly because they thrive in a temperate climate.
The nutritional value of mealworms is hard to beat: They’re rich in copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium. Mealworms are also comparable to beef in terms of protein content, but have a greater number of healthy, polyunsaturated fats.
In summary, our ancestors thousands of years ago had to adapt to feeding themselves with what was available on the land. One day we may have to do the same and with the help of research, technology and experimenting in our kitchens, Entomophagy may be the answer.
If you would like to see a transcript of this or other Tech 5 programs, please visit www.ezeeradiosvg.com.
This is Ben Harrison from EEZEE Radio 91.1 AND 102.7 on your FM DIAL in St. Vincent and the Grenadines