The edible insects coming to a supermarket near you

Hargol farms its grass-fed locusts in northern Israel

It has long been suggested that we should start eating insects to help the environment, but for many of us it is not a palatable thought. One Israeli firm is hoping to win over the squeamish by adding different flavourings.

Dror Tamir opens a packet of brown, jellied sweets. “Try one,” says the boss of food tech firm Hargol.

The little gummies are packed with protein, but not from soy or gelatine. They are instead made from an edible, jumping insect – locusts, which are a type of grasshopper.

“Grasshoppers taste like pecans, mushrooms, coffee and chocolate,” adds Mr Tamir. “But with our range of food we can add in different flavours… the gummies come in orange and strawberry flavour.”

Dror Tamir has had a passion for grasshoppers since his childhood

The Israeli entrepreneur says he became fascinated with grasshoppers as a child, after hearing stories from his grandmother, who was the cook on a kibbutz, or collective farm.

“I learned about the 1950s, when Israel suffered from both food insecurity as well as locust swarms flying in from Africa and destroying the crops,” he says.

“While most kibbutz members ran to the fields to scare the grasshoppers away, the Yemenite and Moroccan Jewish members collected tons of them to eat.

Hargol’s sweets don’t taste of grasshoppers

“That's when I learned that grasshoppers are food for billions around the globe.”

The insects have long been eaten by communities across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Middle East, but for many people in Europe and North America it remains an unwelcome thought.

Mr Tamir hopes to change all that, and his firm is about to introduce a range of products. In addition to the sweets there will be energy bars, burgers and falafel balls.

If you are still not convinced that insects will ever become part of the Western diet, some experts believe there may be eventually no choice due to environmental concerns and projected global population growth.

By 2050 the world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion, up from the current 7.7 billion.

Would you be tempted to try eating locusts?

With another two billion people to feed, some say that traditional farming will not be able to keep pace. And that, at the same time, switching to insect protein will be far better for the environment than rearing cows, sheep and other mammals.

“Protein is essential in our diets,” says Prof Robin May, chief scientific advisor to the UK's Food Standards Agency. “But often some of our most protein-rich foods come with significant environmental or ethical footprints – meat or dairy products, for instance.

“Some insect proteins, such as ground crickets or freeze-dried mealworms, are cheap, easy to farm, low fat and have a lower environmental impact than meat.

“And sometimes they may even provide a valuable 'recycling' service, by consuming waste products as their primary feedstuff, so the potential advantages to society are significant.”

Yet Prof May also cautions that some questions remain regarding the eating of farmed insects.

“The way that insects are farmed and the relatively short time in which they have been used as agricultural animals means that we know far less about insect-derived foods than we do for, say, beef,” he says.

A key question at this stage, he adds, is whether some insect proteins may prove to be allergenic or to have significant impact on the human microbiome – the bacteria and other microbes that live inside our bodies.

Mr Tamir is convinced that the environmental and health benefits are enough of a reason to make insects part of the diet.

Insects are already eaten in many countries around the world

His firm farms its locusts at an indoor, solar-powered facility in northern Israel. The main species that it breeds is the migratory locust, but it also farms the desert locust, and a bush cricket called nsenene.

“We can breed 400 million locusts a year in our facilities,” says Mr Tamir, who adds that the insect takes just 29 days to become fully grown.

He claims that compared with beef production, locust farming reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 99%, water consumption by 1,000 times and arable land usage 1,500-fold.

Mr Tamir is also keen to point out that locusts are both kosher and halal, meaning that they can be eaten by both dietary observant Jews and Muslims.

New Economy

New Economy is a new series exploring how businesses, trade, economies and working life are changing fast.

Whether you can actually buy edible insects to eat depends on what country you live in. In the UK, you can buy them from online firms such as EatGrub and Horizon Insects, although the sector would like the UK government to remove expensive regulation.

In the European Union, both the migratory locust and yellow mealworms, the larva of a beetle, were deemed fit for human consumption this year.

French firm Ynsect makes a range of protein powders made from mealworms that are already found in some brands of energy bars, pasta and burgers.

Chief executive Antoine Hubert says the protein is “completely natural” and “a less processed alternative” to many mammal-based meats, such as sausages, hams and breaded chicken products.

Antoine Hubert says the protein is a less processed alternative to sausages and breaded chicken

He points to a recent study from Maastricht University showing that insect protein is as beneficial as milk protein. “Both have the same performance on digestion, absorption and on the ability to stimulate muscle production,” says Mr Hubert.

Yet Bridget Benelam, communications manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, says more research is still needed. She echoes Prof May's concerns about potential allergies, saying some people may be allergic to eating insects in the same way that others have an adverse reaction to shellfish.

She points out that some unanswered questions remain around the safety of consuming some types of insect, which could potentially transfer toxins or pesticides to humans. “These are some of the barriers that need to be overcome if eating insects is to become truly mainstream.”

Back in Israel, Mr Tamir admits that “the yuck factor” is one of his industry's most important challenges. “But I am convinced it will soon be widely accepted, just like eating raw fish in sushi was embraced.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Deontay Wilder keeps No 1 heavyweight ranking despite Tyson Fury defeat

(Getty Images) Deontay Wilder has retained his number one ranking with the WBC, despite losing his last two fights to champion Tyson Fury. Wilder has not won a fight since ... Read more »

Zendaya wore a daring cutout dress with sheer details to the 'Dune' premiere after-party

Zendaya‘s latest look during the “Dune” press tour is one of her best yet. Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images On Monday, Zendaya turned heads in a daring look at the “Dune” premiere ... Read more »

Facebook paying fine to settle US suit on discrimination

FILE – In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square. Facebook is paying a $4.75 ... Read more »

Microsoft's former Xbox chief wasn't sure if the first console would ‘see the light of day'

Next month marks the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox brand. One of the Big Three console makers, alongside Sony (SONY) and Nintendo (NTDOY), Microsoft has seen its Xbox line ... Read more »

William Shatner oldest astronaut at 90 – Here's how space tourism could affect older people

© Provided by Space William Shatner floats in front if his window, with the Earth visible in the background, during Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch on Oct. 13, 2021 in ... Read more »

Rescued Leatherback Sea Turtle Returns to Waters of Cape Cod

A 600-pound leatherback sea turtle who was stranded on a Massachusetts beach returned to his watery home on October 10 after being rescued by teams from the International Fund for ... Read more »

Jaishankar meets Israeli Parliament's Speaker; discusses common challenges, regional developments

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met with Israeli Parliament Speaker Mickey Levy and the two leaders discussed at length the common challenges faced by the two countries like ... Read more »

Forget the moon buggy! Incredible MOTORCYCLE concept could allow future astronauts to cruise across the lunar surface at 10mph

Motorcycle concept has been unveiled for future astronauts to drive on moonElectric vehicle was brought to life by German motor design company HookieWeighs 295lbs, has top speed of 10mph, and battery range of almost 70 milesIt won't make it to moon but is on display at LA's Petersen Automotive Museum Read more »

Where people in Houston are moving to most

© Provided by Stacker © skeeze // Pixabay skeeze // Pixabay Where people in Houston are moving to most Stacker compiled a list of where people in Houston are moving ... Read more »

Ye spotted in prosthetic mask at New York airport

Ye spotted in prosthetic mask at New York airport Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye, has been photographed at New York’s John F Kennedy airport wearing a ... Read more »

UK records 223 Covid deaths and 43,738 daily cases

People queue to receive a Covid-19 jab at a pop-up vaccination centre (PA Wire) The UK faced 223 Covid deaths and 43,738 new infections on Tuesday. It is the highest ... Read more »

UK strikes green investment deal with Bill Gates

The UK government has struck a deal with Bill Gates. It says the billionaire Microsoft founder will invest to help bring down the cost of green technologies. Gates says he’s ... Read more »

Kate surprised by Ant and Dec at addiction awareness event

The Duchess of Cambridge was surprised by Ant and Dec today as she bumped into them on her way to the Taking Action on Addiction campaign launch event in London. ... Read more »

Households to be offered £5,000 heat pump grant

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has praised a new government initiative to offer £5,000 grants to households to replace their gas boiler with a low carbon heat pump. “The publication ... Read more »

UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove Swarmed by Anti-Vax Protesters Outside Home Office

British Housing Secretary and Member of Parliament Michael Gove was surrounded by anti-vaccination protesters and heckled outside the UK Home Office in London on October 19. This video posted to ... Read more »

Where people in Dallas are moving to most

© Provided by Stacker © Alan Botting // Wikimedia Commons Alan Botting // Wikimedia Commons Where people in Dallas are moving to most Stacker compiled a list of where people ... Read more »

Where people in Austin are moving to most

© Provided by Stacker © Pixabay Pixabay Where people in Austin are moving to most Stacker compiled a list of where people in Austin are moving to the most using ... Read more »

‘Case closed': 99.9% of scientists agree climate emergency caused by humans

The scientific consensus that humans are altering the climate has passed 99.9%, according to research that strengthens the case for global action at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. The degree ... Read more »

Orion: Nasa's Moon ship ready to be attached to rocket

Nasa's next-generation spaceship is ready to be attached to a rocket that should send it to the Moon this year or in early 2022. On Monday, the Orion spacecraft was ... Read more »

A Hint of Dark Matter Sends Physicists Looking to the Skies

After a search of neutron stars finds preliminary evidence for hypothetical dark matter particles called axions, astrophysicists are devising new ways to spot them. Read more »

Amazon, Ikea and Unilever pledge zero-carbon shipping by 2040

A cargo ship Nine big companies including Amazon, Ikea and Unilever have pledged to only move cargo on ships using zero-carbon fuel by 2040. They say the “aggressive” target will ... Read more »

NASA unpacks its successor to Hubble: $10 BILLION James Webb Space Telescope will launch 930,000 miles into space this December where it will peer deeper into the cosmos than ever before

The James Webb Space Telescope arrived in French Guiana on October 12, 2021It has been unpacked and is 'settling into the cleanroom', according to NASA It is being put through a series of checks before being launched on December 18 Read more »

McDonald's employee reveals the chain's ‘least-ordered' menu item: ‘No one knew how to make it'

A fast-food worker is going viral after revealing the alleged least-ordered item at McDonald’s. The revelation comes courtesy of Stephen Patula, the McDonald’s employee behind the popular TikTok page @patulafamilymcdonalds. ... Read more »

Insulate Britain protester tied to railing with own banner by furious driver

Footage shows the moment an Insulate Britain protester is tied to a railing with their own banner by an angry driver as climate protests continue. Video shared by the climate ... Read more »

James O'Brien Says What Everyone Is Thinking About The UK's Climbing Covid Infection Rate

James O’Brien on his LBC talk show (Photo: Twitter @LBC) Radio presenter James O’Brien has blamed the government’s inaction over the pandemic for the UK’s climbing Covid infection rate. The ... Read more »

Record 111,000 school children had Covid last week

Molly Rowe, 15, from St John Ogilvie High School in Hamilton receives her vaccines from Dentist Nollaig O Callaghan at Fernhill community centre in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA ... Read more »

New Covid strain AY4.2 under close watch in UK

Covent Garden, London (PA ) The government is keeping a “close eye” on a descendant of the coronavirus Delta variant which is being seen in a growing number of cases. ... Read more »

How to make climate action popular

BBSTUDIOPHOTO/Shutterstock Ambitious action is needed to stop average global temperatures rising above 1.5°C. But some measures to cut fossil fuel use and develop alternative industries have provoked resistance. Wind farms ... Read more »

How the US faces catastrophic defeat by China or Russia in a hypersonic Third World War

Hypersonic warfare The recent test of a hypersonic nuclear-capable missile by China is a reminder that any future major war between great powers will look very different to the last. ... Read more »

The Most Common Places COVID Is Spreading Right Now (And Where It's Not)

You might be surprised where COVID-19 is and isn’t spreading. (Photo: Hirurg via Getty Images) The types of places that carry the biggest risk for COVID-19 transmission have changed over ... Read more »

Girl, 11, collapses and dies after going into cardiac arrest at Leicester school

An 11-year-old girl has died after collapsing at Moat Community College in Leicester. (Google) An 11-year-old girl has died after going into cardiac arrest at her school. The schoolgirl collapsed ... Read more »

Back to gravity: Russians talk about world's 1st space movie

1 / 4Russia Space StationIn this photo taken from video footage released by Roscosmos Space Agency, actress Yulia Peresild sits in a chair shortly after the landing of the Russian ... Read more »

Global leaders must invest in agricultural innovation says Gates Foundation

A Kenyan woman picks tea leaves at a tea plantation in Muranga, Kenya (AFP via Getty Images) Rural livelihoods around the world are already facing the devastating consequences of rising ... Read more »

Vaccine showdown at the radio station conglomerate

© Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon Happy Tuesday, y’all. Welcome to the week. As I mentioned in my Thursday Hot Pod Insider, I saw Dune on Friday — ... Read more »

Facebook urged to publish research on harm its platforms cause children

Facebook must “publish what they know” about the harm its platforms cause to children, the Health Secretary has demanded. Sajid Javid told MPs he was “astonished” to learn that an ... Read more »

Diver finds 900-year-old sword on the Mediterranean seafloor

An Israeli amateur diver found a large, 900-year-old sword dating back to the Crusades at the bottom of Mediterranean Sea last week, Israeli researchers said on Monday. The diver, identified ... Read more »

Britain's Own Truck Drivers Are Mainly Responsible for Shortage

1 / 2Britain’s Own Truck Drivers Are Mainly Responsible for Shortage (Bloomberg) — Most Read from Bloomberg The shortfall in U.K. truck drivers that’s causing widespread shortages of goods is ... Read more »

Volcanic activity raises Japanese ghost ships from the deep

The black beach on Iwo To, formerly known as Iwo Jima, was stormed by thousands of U.S. Marines Feb. 19, 1945 A sudden bout of seismic activity in the chain ... Read more »

Brexit feud puts French scallop fishers in troubled waters

French fishing boats have protested in front off the British island of Jersey to draw attention to what they see as unfair restrictions on their ability to fish in UK ... Read more »

Madison Cawthorn calls for mothers to raise ‘monster' men in terrifying speech against ‘demasculation'

North Carolina’s Republican representative Madison Cawthorn claimed society is trying to “de-masculate young men” and urged mothers to raise their sons to be “monsters,” in a blatant display of toxic ... Read more »