Insects could make food taste meaty – and help the environment – ​​according to scientists | Insects

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Insects can be turned into meat flavors, helping to provide a greener alternative to traditional meat options, scientists have found.

Mealworms, the larval form of the yellow mealworm beetle, have been cooked with sugar by researchers who have found the result is a meaty flavor that could one day be used on cooked meals as a source of protein .

While mealworms have so far been used primarily as snacks for pets or as bait while fishing, they have the potential as a food source for humans to help achieve the recognizable flavors of meat without harmful effects on the climate, as well as direct air and water. pollution, from raising beef, pork and other foods of animal origin.

“Insects are a nutritious and healthy food source with high amounts of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber and high-quality meat-like protein,” says researcher In Hee Cho. at Wonkwang University in South Korea who led the study.

“Many consumers are serious about animal protein and need it in their diets. However, traditional animal husbandry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than cars. On the other hand, insect farming requires only a fraction of the land, water and food compared to traditional farming.

Cho said edible insects, such as mealworms and crickets, have long been “superfoods” enjoyed by communities in Asia, Africa and South America. However, people in Europe and North America are generally more reluctant to eat insects, despite recent forays by several restaurants and supermarkets to offer insect options to consumers.

Using mealworms as a meat flavoring could help fill this gap, the researchers hope. The new study, which will be presented at the American Chemical Society this week, found that flavors were released when mealworms were heated with sugars, with the proteins and sugars interacting and caramelizing into a range of meaty flavors. and salted.

According to the researchers, different cooking processes produced different results. The steamed mealworms give off a kind of sweet corn aroma, while the roasted and fried versions are more like shrimp. A panel of volunteers was used in sniff tests to determine which favors were most meat-like from those concocted.

Global food production is responsible for around a third of all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, with the raising of animals for meat being responsible for the majority of these emissions. Grazing and feeding livestock consumes about 80% of Earth’s farmland, with everything from cow burps to massive deforestation of land to make way for pastures causing global warming emissions.

Scientists say avoiding meat and dairy is the best way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, though meat eating remains popular in the West and is now gaining traction among an emerging wealthy class in China and India. .

Insects, which can be raised in large numbers in small spaces with a fraction of the pollution of traditional meat, have been cited by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as a potentially valuable source of protein. to feed a growing world population that is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050.

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