The Science and Potential of Insects and Griopro® Cricket Powder
INSECTS AS FOOD WORLDWIDE: The consumption of insects as food (sometimes referred to as “entomophagy”, is accepted and practiced by many cultures around the world (Defoliart 1995; Nonaka 2009; Ramos-Elorduy 2009). As many as 3,071 ethnic groups in 130 countries (Ramos-Elorduy 2009) utilize insects as essential elements of their diet (Dossey et al., 2016 a ; Dossey et al., 2016 b ; Shockley and Dossey, 2014; Nations 2008; Srivastava et al., 2009; Yen, 2009). In fact, it is estimated that as much as 80% of the world’s population eats insects intentionally, and 100% do unintentionally (Srivastava et al., 2009). Even in the United States there has been an increasing interest in insect based food products in recent years (Dossey et al., 2016 a ; Gahukar, 2011; Nations, 2008).
BIODIVERSITY: The UN FAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization) estimates that there are well over 1,000 edible insects currently used (Vogel 2010), and others estimate that number to be over 2,000 (Dossey et al., 2016 b ; Ramos-Elorduy, 2009; Ramos-Elorduy, 1997). There are over 1 million species described and 4-30 million species estimated to exist on earth, living in every niche inhabited by humans and beyond (Dossey, 2010). With this diversity and their collective reproductive capacity, they are a lot safer bet for future food security than are vertebrate animals. Development of more diversity in animal livestock/protein sources is critical to human food security going forward. For example, since there are insects of some sort on nearly every patch of land on earth, chances are that some local species in every area can be farmed as human food without transporting non-native species into the area for the same purpose. Additionally, the large numbers of edible species mean that an insect farm affecting their initial species can likely switch to another species which is resistant, which has already been done at many North American and European cricket farms.
CLEAN PROTEIN FROM INSECTS: Farm raised insects such as crickets are grown at very clean indoor farms. Many common foodborne pathogens do not seem to be present at these farms to date: or example, in one study Salmonella, Staph, E. coli and Listeria were not found in samples of the following commercially farmed cricket and mealworm species: (Zoophobas morio, Tenebrio molitor, Galleria mellonella, and Acheta domesticus) (Superworm, Mealworm, Waxworm and House Cricket, Respectively) (Giaccone 2005). Additionally, to date, All Things Bugs LLC, via our research grant projects (over $750,000 to date!), has not found Eschericha coli, Salmonella sp., Staphylococcus aureus, or Listeria sp. in any of several shipments of raw frozen insects from some of US cricket and mealworm farms, and coliform/total plate count is reasonably low. Also, pasteurization appears to reduce total plate count to very low and possibly nearly sterile levels. Additionally, insects are biologically more separated from humans than vertebrate livestock, so the risk of an insect viral pathogen or parasite jumping to humans is exceedingly low (van Huis et al., 2013). Thus, pathogen risk appears to be very low for farmed insects.