>> There’s no time to build cultural barriers, the types of cars our ancestors drove, how they cultivated fields and what they ate will soon be a thing of the past. Consuming insects will not only be appreciated by nature but, most importantly, by your body. Edible insects have numerous benefits
Insects have likely been present on our planet for several hundred million years longer than mammals. And, more importantly, their life cycle is significantly shorter. A simple calculation reveals that insects have undergone evolution on orders of magnitude longer timescales than commonly raised vertebrates. The efficiency with which they can process food and multiply their population is breathtaking. Insect farming is significantly more efficient compared to cattle farming, not only in terms of feed requirements (1:12). It also has negligible water demands (1:50) and a significantly lower carbon footprint (1:600).
Data on this topic vary widely from different sources, and ecological websites understandably tend to exaggerate the efficiency of insect farming. Nevertheless, even the most conservative estimates unequivocally demonstrate the enormous potential of insects as our future food source. Please consider the table data with caution. The parameters for land, feed, and water vividly illustrate how many resources are required to feed 1 kg of cultivated animal. The percentage figure in the left column indicates how much of its body is nutritionally utilizable.
The previous articles on this website have clearly summarized how depleted the planet’s resources are. There is neither time nor space to erect cultural barriers around potential solutions to the current situation. The type of cars our parents and grandparents drove, how they cultivated fields, raised animals, what they used for fuel, how much of what they ate, or how they packaged their food, all of this is rapidly changing.
That we will be eating insects would have been hardly believable just a few years ago. But it’s here, and it’s amazing how quickly society has embraced it. When you bring insect-based products to a birthday celebration, most people don’t cringe; on the contrary, the bag passes from hand to hand. There’s no wonder in that; the minuscule ecological footprint is not the only advantage of consuming insects. Your body will thank you for eating insects. Insects are, in fact, a literal and letter-for-letter nutritional and dietary gem.
Nutritional value of insects
The available energy in 100 grams of mealworm larvae is 860 KJ (206 kcal). When comparing this to traditional types of meat, the result will naturally depend on which part of the respective animal we are comparing. For example, a kilogram of beef tenderloin has 500 KJ, while fatty beef has 1230 KJ. At first glance, some types of meat may seem lower in calories. However, upon closer examination, the content of essential amino acids, the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids, and other nutritional parameters clearly place insects at the top of this hypothetical hierarchy of animal-based foods. We can confidently label insects as a superfood.
Note: The percentage indicators in the following analysis relate to mealworm larvae, the most commonly cultivated type of edible insect in our region.
The content of animal protein in insects is similar to that of pork and beef. But they boast a higher proportion of essential amino acids – those that our bodies cannot synthesize on their own and must obtain through food. Edible insects offer the complete spectrum of these amino acids.
The second most significant component is fat, or lipids. In this regard, insects also contain higher proportions of essential fats than regular meat. Additionally, the optimal ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is comparable to that of sea fish. Consuming insects can be a good replacement in this aspect.
Carbohydrates and fiber (7% +7%)
Insect exoskeletons are made of chitin, which, while categorized as a carbohydrate, can be digested only by people in areas where insects are a traditional food source. Therefore, Europeans can consider it as dietary fiber. Chitin is beneficial for our health in various ways. irst, it lowers cholesterol; second, it has antioxidant (anti-cancer) effects; and third, it has a direct impact on the richness of the microbiotic flora in the colon and, therefore, on immunity. However, it’s worth noting that some individuals may be allergic to chitin.
Minerals and vitamins
Edible insects are also rich in minerals and vitamins. They contain iron, zinc, calcium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and selenium, all while having low levels of undesirable potassium and sodium. They also contain vitamins A, D, E, K, and a significant portion of the B-vitamin complex, including vitamin B12. The latter is absent from plant-based diets and its deficiency can lead to severe health problems in vegan diets. The daily requirement for B12 can be covered by consuming 80 grams of insect meal. However, it’s important to mention that the vitamin and mineral content mainly depends on the insects’ diet. The nutritional and vitamin values will correspond to how we enrich their diet, especially in the final stages of their cultivation.
A very detailed diploma thesis dealing with the nutritional composition of edible insect species available in our country. Comparison with the recommended daily dose of iron and zinc, exclusion of the risk of consuming heavy metals.
And what can I do with it?
Insect farming is still in its infancy in Europe. Apart from breeding purposes or a few online shops, you won’t easily find edible insects available for purchase. And even if you manage to do so, it’s definitely not a cheap endeavor. However, on just one square meter, anywhere (even in a small apartment), you can easily cultivate several kilograms of worms each month for your own consumption or for sale without much effort, which can improve not only the nutritional balance of your diet but also your family’s budget.
Farming with insects is very easy
Do something for your health and family budget! Larvae for self-consumption can be grown without problems even in an apartment house
Become a farmer!
Raising mealworms is very straightforward, requires minimal time, doesn’t produce any unpleasant odors, and offers significant financial, health, and ecological benefits.
For illustrative purposes, let’s take a brief financial analysis: One kilogram of live mealworm larvae sells for approximately 8-16 € CZK. You can grow such a quantity of larvae at room temperature from about 2-3 kilograms of grain-based substrate (e.g., bran, oat flakes, wheat bran, breadcrumbs, etc.), which typically costs around 1 €, depending on the type and source. This results in a good return, even if you purchase the substrate at a higher price. Furthermore, there’s incredible room for optimization as mealworms can thrive on nearly all the plant-based waste from your household, making use of all your vegetable scraps, potato peels, breadcrumbs, or even old bread that you might obtain at a low cost.
It’s possible that you or your friends have been captivated by the crunchy mealworms, a somewhat expensive but incomparably healthier and more ecological alternative to potato chips. Know that their preparation is very simple; from one kilogram of larvae, you can quickly produce 12 bags of 50 grams each at home. The total price for such a product on the market today exceeds an astounding 120 €.
Healthy treats made from insects
Insects are not only very healthy, but they can also be used to make real delicacies. And it works even without legs and feelers!
If you’re convinced, welcome aboard. A detailed guide on how to start breeding mealworms, along with possibly some tips for experienced breeders, can be found in the following chapters of this website. Small-scale farmers can also share their experiences here or advertise their surpluses for local “backyard” sales for free.