19 May 2019, 3:47 pm

Crickets have hit the high street – can they save the planet?

Not that long ago, many of us would grimace at the idea of eating raw fish, crunching on kale or slurping on a chia smoothie.
Now thousands of us munch on California rolls doused in soy sauce during our lunch break without a second thought.
But what about adding some crispy crickets to your poke bowl?
This week Abokado, a sushi chain based in London, has done just that and says the crickets are “healthy” and “sustainable”.
“In a few years insects will be a normalised food in our everyday diet,” Abokado’s managing director Kara Alderin says.
Last year, Sainsbury’s started selling grubs as snacks in 250 of its stores.
Packets of Eat Grub’s smoky BBQ crunchy roasted crickets are also now sold in Ocado at £1.50 a packet.
They are marketed as a healthy, protein heavy, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional meat and fish options.
But eating insects is nothing new – in fact insects are eaten by around two billion people around the world.
It’s known as “entomophagy”.
‘Enormous environmental benefits’
Many insects are eaten completely whole – wings and all – whereas we only consume around 40% of a cow.
A 2013 UN report suggested that eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution.
“I hope that eating insects will become more normalised because they have such enormous environmental benefits,” Dr Tilly Collins from Imperial College London argues.
“In the Western world we have a sustainability crunch looming where we simply can’t eat the amount of meat we do.
“In developing countries eating insects can be a really important source of nutrition where there’s a real problem with food security.”
Farming insects uses only a fraction of the land, water and feed required for traditional livestock – insects are also estimated to release 80% less methane than cows.
“We can grow insects on food waste so we convert something that is essentially a waste product into a protein,” Dr Collins says.