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It’s just not cricket..!

Mike Gaunt

Sorry to disappoint, but this is not about the thwack of leather on willow; of T20 or Test matches. No, it’s about something which caught my eye just a week or so ago. In Finland. By the way, Finland has just celebrated 100 years of being Finland. It was a whole century ago that it achieved independence from Russia. There was a short period of adjustment, whilst a little civil war was fought and the unpronounceable Mr Svinhufvud was in charge. Now, the splendidly named Sauli Niinistöt holds the presidential reins. 
Anyway, as I was saying… they’ve started to make bread from insects in Finland. Crickets, to be precise. Now, before you start with the strong reactions, just pause and consider: we already eat them! I know! The acceptable quantity, according to the USA’s FDA, of insect ‘debris’ is an average of 60 or more aphids in 100gm of frozen broccoli or chocolate. As if that’s not of concern, curry powder can have up to 100 insect bits in only 25gm.
Every year, we add some 70 million to the world population. That’s the UK’s population, roughly, or France, or Thailand. We already use some three fourths of our agricultural land to raise our livestock, the oceans are running out of fish and we pollute the environment.
Climate change and disease also threaten crop production. Frankly, we’re in a bit of a pickle!
What we need is a source of protein that isn’t going to use up a lot of land or sea as it grows. It would be great if we could get a load of protein for less feed, too. Crickets need about 2kg of feed to produce 1kg of protein. Cattle need about 8kg to produce the same and only 40 per cent of a cow can be used; 80pc of the cricket can be used. Generally, insects can eat waste that we, or other animals, won’t eat and they produce fewer greenhouse gases.
But isn’t it all a bit gross? Well, not to a lot of people, no. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, some two billion people consume insects on a regular basis. From beetles and ants, to wasps and termites, they are high protein, mineral-rich and rich in good fat. Unlike typical animal protein, which is lower in protein, often less mineral laden and frequently full of the ‘bad’ fat!
Additionally, and perhaps most compellingly, the farming of insects could provide a livelihood for many people worldwide.
If we follow Finland’s lead, and begin to eat protein-rich bread, where the protein is insect-based, then aside from contributing less to the world’s pollution problem, we would be eating more healthily and providing much needed employment for many in less developed regions.
It’s a ‘no-brainer’ for me. Much as we may rebel at the thought, I predict with confidence that we will become increasingly entomophagous (look it up!) until we routinely eat either whole arthropods, such as locusts and crickets (after all, we already eat shrimp and lobster) or flour made from them, which is used to enrich baked goods, such as bread, cake and biscuits.
Bon apetite!

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