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Can insects really be future of food? Updated: 2021-12-08 17:33:23 KST

Have you ever tried eating insects?
Many experts think bugs can be the future of food as the world's population keeps on growing and the demand for food surges.
Our Jang Tae-hyun is here in the studio to tell us why insects can be the solution.
Good to see you, Tae-hyun.

HI THERE. I know you get hungry on air so I brought you a snack.
These are dried mealworms that I got from an insect farm yesterday.
Do you want to try some?

Okay, so Tae-hyun, tell us why we need to eat these crawlies.

SURE. So, insects can actually save our planet.
Because it takes less land, resources and energy to grow them and less greenhouse gas emissions.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said that the world's population will grow to more than 9 billion by 2050.
The report also says we will need up to five times more energy and 1.7 times more food.
So, we need to figure out an eco-friendly way to mass-produce our dinners.

So farming bugs can be more eco-friendly than breeding the traditional livestock?

RIGHT. You are totally getting this.
To produce 1 kilogram of protein, livestock need to be fed 10 kilograms of food while insects need just 1 kilogram.
And insects often eat the by-products of crops like rice so we don't need to do extra farming to feed insects.
For water as well, insects need a quarter of what livestock need.
And greenhouse gas emissions from those bugs are 1 percent that of livestock.
Cows need 30 months to grow and pigs 6 months before they're large enough to eat.
But for insects, it takes less than 3 months.

Interesting. So, do people buy insects to cook them?

According to data from the Agriculture Ministry South Korea's insect industry had sales of some 35 million dollars in 2020.
And more than half of that came from edible insects.
As of now, the ministry has allowed only 10 edible insects including mealworms and beetle larva.

I see. But Tae-hyun, I have to ask. Is it safe to farm insects?

DANIEL, that's a good question.
I went to a farm and checked it out.
The Agriculture Ministry is closely inspecting the breeding farms and making sure that they follow safety guidelines.

"The edible mealworms are grown in a clean environment. And I started this insect farm business because mealworms are great source of protein and if you don't have enough protein, your health will suffer."

They make sure that all the impurities are removed before drying the insects.
So, it can cost up to 100-thousand won, or some 85 U.S. dollars per kilogram.

Who are some the core consumers?

SOME elderly people are happy to eat bugs because. in South Korea, we have similar food like fried grasshoppers or even 'Beondegi' which means silkworm pupa.
And young children can be interested but it's not popular in all age groups.
Although I'd like to mention that insects are a good source of protein even better than beef.
100 grams of beef has close to 25 grams of protein while insect larva has more than 28.
And it also has other nutrients like fiber and amino acids.
That's why it was even served in a school meal in some parts of South Korea.

I see. And I heard you went to a special kitchen to taste food made of bugs?

I met one of the master chefs specializing in insect foods.
And she cooked us Korean pancakes and desserts.
She ground up the mealworms and put them in the dough and used more bugs as a topping.
Our crew had dinner there and as soon as we started digging in, the food was so amazing that we forgot that it was made of bugs.
It tasted savory, nutty and earthy a bit like a shrimp.
And the chef said, she uses insects for her daily food.

"I often add insects when making a stew or seasoned side dish. When outside, I don't have time to have food so I just eat dried insects. That's why my skin is so tight."

She cited medical sources that say bugs can actually help people recover from fatigue, as well as improve their blood flow and prevent diabetes.
But you have to be careful if you are allergic to shellfish.
Or you could feel itchy or get a rash.
Apart from that, there's no excuse not to tuck in.

Great. Thank you for letting us know all about this new cuisine.

Thank you.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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