Although insects are known to be a great source of protein, and often mentioned as the ‘food of the future’, many consumers avoid them due to their appearance. However, the number of individuals who enjoy edible insects as a meal is continuously increasing as awareness builds of their health value.
‘Papillon’s Kitchen’, the first insect restaurant in Korea, serves food made from insects such as grasshoppers and crickets.
During a recent mealtime watched by Korea Bizwire staff, guests sat around a large table and enjoyed pasta, soup, and croquettes made from insects. They seemed to be enjoying their meal, as everyone appeared to be content.
“There’s no problem with food cooked with insects when I can’t see them,” said one female customer, raising her thumb in approval.
With food scarcity becoming an increasing concern due to the rapid growth of the global population, insects could be a great substitute for traditional sources of protein. The academic world and food industry predict that in the not-so-distant future, insects will rise as one of the main sources of nourishment for humans.
While 100 grams of beef contains 21 grams of protein, the same mass of dried grasshoppers contains 70 grams of protein. Insects are also less fattening, as they contain half the calories of rice and beans.
Insects are also considered to be an eco-friendly food source. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food resources used to breed cows for beef could contribute to the production of 12 times as many crickets. Even more significant, the amount of greenhouse gas produced when raising crickets is one hundredth the amount produced when raising cows.
Due to new perspectives on insects as food, the Korean government and related industries are taking fast action. Currently, the government has certified mealworms and crickets as ‘general food ingredients’. Food industry giant CJ also started research on edible insects in collaboration with the Korean Edible Insect Laboratory Knowledge Coop (KEIL).
Experts comment that people hold prejudice on insects simply because of their unattractive appearance. They expect edible insects will soon be commercialised due to their many benefits.
By Francine Jung of Korea Bizwire.