Exploring Insects as Sustainable Food and Feed Alternatives

Author: Dr. Miloš Petrović, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad

The global demand for animal protein is growing rapidly, which puts a perspective on the need for finding new sources that are easily reared and have a smaller strain on the environment.

Unveiling Insects’ Nutritional Potential and Ecological Benefits

 

Insects have posed as an exceptional candidate as they are considered to be a more sustainable alternative to traditional feed as well as a food source. Insects have a nutritional value that can compete with usually used feeds, as they are high in protein, fat, amino acids, and many other macro and micronutrients. Insects are farmed on a much smaller footprint than livestock, as their rearing requires less water and energy, which contributes to global changes in the ecosystem, avoiding the greatest toll like deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. The species which are currently reared on a mass scale with a permission given by European authorities are yellow mealworm Tenebrio molitor, lesser mealworm Alphitobius diaperinus, migratory locust Locusta migratoria and domestic cricket Acheta domestica. These species have permission to be used both as a food (for human consumption) and feed (as an animal feed).

Insects as a food source are susceptible to a number of innovative rearing approaches that are being used to revolutionize production, such as vertical farming or bioconversion technology.

Both approaches are far more ecologically acceptable, as vertical farming
uses a fraction of the land and water required for traditional farming, and bioconversion helps to reduce food waste through a closed-loop system.

Contemporary researchers and alternative protein advocates are developing new methods for processing insect feed that make it more palatable for animals and humans. This is important for increasing the acceptance of insect-based feed by the feed and food industry. Moreover, in addition to the direct uses of insect farming, secondary benefits are worth mentioning, as insect excreta, called frass, is posing as a powerful and ecologically acceptable organic fertilizer with many uses.

When we talk about many uses, we have to point out the products made from insects. The availability of insect-based products is currently blooming all over the European Union. Bread made with cricket flour is one of the most popular products in one Turin Italy bakery. Hamburgers made entirely of T. molitor meat are served as a part of the regular menu in Switzerland. On the other hand, pet food, especially dog food made with some percent of insect meal is available even in Western Balkans states.

After reading this, what do you think?
What future holds? Will food in future have more legs than we wanted to?

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