Insects can be transformed into meaty flavors, offering a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional meat options, scientists have found.
Mealworms, the larval form of the yellow mealworm beetle, have been sugar-cooked by researchers who found the result is a meat-like flavor that could one day be used as a protein source in ready meals.
Although until now mainly used as pet snacks or bait while fishing, mealworms have the potential as a food source for humans to help achieve the recognizable flavors of meat without the harmful effects on the climate, as well as direct air and water pollution. , from raising beef, pork and other animal foods.
“Insects are a nutritious and healthy food source with high amounts of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber and high-quality protein, similar to meat,” said In Hee Cho, a researcher at Wonkwang University in South Korea. the study.
“Many consumers like and need animal protein in our diet. However, traditional livestock farming emits more greenhouse gases than cars. On the other hand, insect farming requires only a fraction of the land, water and feed compared to traditional livestock farming.”
Cho said edible insects, such as mealworms and crickets, are “superfoods” that communities in Asia, Africa and South America have long enjoyed. However, people in Europe and North America are generally more cautious about eating insects, despite recent attempts by several restaurants and supermarkets to offer consumers insect options.
Using mealworms as a meat-like flavoring could help bridge this gap, researchers hope. The new study, to be presented this week to the American Chemical Society, found that the flavors were released when mealworms were heated with sugars, with the proteins and sugars interacting and caramelizing into a range of meaty and savory flavors.
Different cooking processes produced different results, the researchers found. Steamed mealworms give off a kind of sweet corn-like aroma, while roasted and fried versions are more like shrimp. A panel of volunteers was used in sniff tests to determine the most meaty favors of those made up.
Global food production is responsible for about a third of all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, with animal breeding for meat being responsible for the bulk of these emissions. Livestock grazing and feeding consumes about 80% of the Earth’s arable land, with everything from cow farming to the massive deforestation of land to make way for pasture that fuels emissions from the planet’s heating.
Scientists say avoiding meat and dairy products is the biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, although eating meat remains popular in the west and is now gaining popularity among an emerging wealthy class in China and India.
Insects, which can be grown 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 UN as a potentially valuable source of protein to feed a growing world population projected to be 9 will surpass. billion people by 2050.