Thanks to the Chinese space program, scientists in Beijing recently published a formal nutritional analysis of what may be one of the least harmful animals to eat, silkworm caterpillars. As I profile in my 2-min video Good Grub, they appear to have more arginine than soybeans, more zinc than pumpkin seeds, and more protein than snail meat. One pound of powdered worms gets you all the vitamin B12 you need for the day. The big nutritional selling point, though, is their low saturated fat content.
Farming insects is also less wasteful than farming other animals. Whereas we waste about 90% of nutrients when we feed grains to cows, less than half the nutrition of edible plants is wasted when we route them through bugs. Okay, but how do they taste? Like octopus, one technical review notes. What’s the downside? See my 2-min. video Bug Appétit: Barriers to Entomophagy.
The American space program is going in a different direction. NASA decided on a vegan menu for Mars, realizing, perhaps, that there are safer and cheaper sources of vitamin B12 than a daily pound of powdered worms. What about arginine? Worms, whale meat, pork rinds, and what else? See my 2-min. video Fat Burning Via Arginine. Though sourcing protein from plants is preferable, maggots have been tapped for their potential to improve the safety of the food supply, see my 2-min. video Maggot Meat Spray.
-Michael Greger, M.D.
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Image credit: Sifu Renka / Wikimedia Commons