With lot of spatial and resource constraints for agriculture, it's time we prepare ourselves for a 'new normal' diet. With such unexpected pandemics striking the world, food security is under question. With the ever soaring population and not to mention the erratic monsoon, we can no more solely rely on agricultural crops to feed the entire world. Even if we manage to achieve food security, nutritional security would still be at stake. Apart from diversification of crops scientists suggest this idea of Entomophagy to be a more sustainable way of not merely feeding the population but ensuring a nutrition rich diet. Though entomophagy -this concept of eating insects is an age old concept it is prevalent only among the native tribes. But it won't be late for a variety of bugs to occupy our menu. Here is a list of some of the popular edible insects that you may try out in this quarantine !
Amroli poruar tup:
Looks so enticing right? With the blend of Indian masalas and garnishing this dish can surely surprise your taste buds. You just need a cup full of red-ant eggs. As simple as that! Amroli poruar tup or the red ant eggs are consumed by the people of Assam as a part of their traditional cuisine at the occasion of Rongali bihu, celebrated in the month of April.As it contains much more proteins, iron, calcium and vitamin B12 it helps us build immunity against many diseases.
Not all people can afford to eat chicken or fish for their protein. Winged termites or Eesal as locally called becomes a boon for such people. It is commonly eaten by Irumbar tribes of North Arcot, Tamilnadu and some natives of Karnataka. The termites are rich in vitamins A and C. Workers termites had the highest vitamin C content, while Queen had the highest vitamin A content. Queen termites are given to weak children by some tribes of Karnataka.
Sago grub :
Some indigenous people in south-east Asia already semi-cultivate red-palm weevil grubs - the sago grub (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), which feeds on the sago palm. They fell palm trees deliberately for the palm weevil larvae to grow, and between one to three months later up to 100 grubs can be found in a single trunk. They are rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acids and they get cooked in their own fat and it has lot of essential amino acids.
Grasshoppers are a national delicacy in several African countries and are being eaten all over the continent. They are also considered a healthy food by locals. Since the supply comes from the wild, it is limited seasonally, and, with high demand, there are high prices. It is good source of protein for them where a lot of people suffer from protein deficiency. Mostly the wings and the exoskeleton are removed before cooking. At times of locust swarms they cope up with the crop losses by eating the locusts.
Crickets and other insects have fibers, such as chitin. These are different from the dietary fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Some types of fiber help the body's beneficial bacteria population grow. These are known as probiotics.
And, the current study showed that eating a diet of crickets in the morning helped one probiotic in particular, Bifidobacterium animalis, to flourish. This probiotic strain has been linked to better gut function.These are consumed by some tribes in Northeastern states.
Beondegi is Korean street food made of silkworm pupae.In Assam, they are boiled for extracting silk and the boiled pupae are eaten directly with salt or fried with chili pepper or herbs as a snack or dish.They are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Despite their name, mopane worms are not worms at all, but the caterpillar of a species of emperor moth known as Gonimbrasia belina. It's a delicacy in some parts of Southern Africa.
Fried spider is a regional snack in Cambodia. In the Cambodian town of Skuon, the vending of fried spiders as a specialty snack is a popular attraction for tourists passing through this town.
In Mizoram, several local foods are made from this pentatomid bug, some by frying the insects in oil. An oily fluid is extracted from the insects which has a high market value for use in traditional medicine.
There are thousands of such edible insects consumed all over the world and has been a source of high-value diet for many. Turning our attention to such non-conventional foods may give hope for a sustainable nutritionally-secure future!