I used this statement as a starter recently in a lesson.
Can eating insects save the world?
Pupils were asked to write down in silence what thoughts came to mind when they read this statement.
Following that we had a brief discussion which included some of the following comments or points:
- This is a strange statement.
- Perhaps it could become the norm.
- What evidence is there to suggest this?
- They have recently invented mealworm bread and cricket flour.
- We need bees. They have an important job to do.
- It could be true but it’s not for me.
- I’m sacred of insects and certainly don’t want them in my mouth.
- What about vegetarians?
- It wouldn’t be a balanced diet. What about 5 a day?
Many pupils associate the eating of bugs with the need to survive and compete on “I am celebrity get me out of here”. Many were very squeamish about the idea of putting an insect in their mouths but surprisingly many could see that eating insects could be more sustainable and better for the environment.
This starter could easily be the basis of a whole lesson on the topic of eating insects. Insects have been a traditional Mexican food since the time of the Aztecs and are often consumed in countries such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. Yet currently in the UK insects are seen very much as a novelty food and many people are often repulsed by the idea of ingesting them. As, the global demand for sourcing protein continues to grow, eating insects would be a realistic way of responding to the increased demand and even a proactive way to prevent World Hunger.
And with the trends towards “free from products” the good news is that products such as Grub Grasshoppers and Grub Meal worms are dairy free, gluten free and wheat free.
As the new curriculum for Food Preparation and Nutrition encourages teachers to look at a range of cultures then looking at culture who eat insects might be an interesting slant to look at. Crickets are commonly eaten in Thailand while wasps are a common delicacy in Japan while locust are popular in Africa.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the healthfulness of edible insects with more traditional protein like beef, pork and chicken, and concluded that insects were higher in nutritional value than mammals.
According to a recent Oxford University study, insects such as crickets, palm weevils, honeybees and larvae contained significantly more vitamins and minerals than other common protein sources such as chicken and beef. In comparison, insect raising saves time, money and has much less of an environmental impact than raising livestock.
If you search the web will easily find many websites selling products made from insects which can be useful as a teaching resource; to show pupils that these products do actually exit and are purchased and consumed. For example this Thai based website is very interesting to look at to pull discussion points from:
The images of bug candy I imagine will definitely get the pupils engaged in a discussion. I am even considering purchasing some cricket flour for development work to increase protein content of dishes at GCSE and A level coursework. I wonder how easy it will be to convince my pupils to give it a try.
Here are a few place where you can purchase some insect based culinary delights.
I feel a “cricket pasta” development project coming on!!!
Pass me a chocolate coated grasshopper please. I’m not sure about the battered and deep fired tarantula just yet!