The farming of edible insects is a solution advocated by many, to ensure future availability and use of essential proteins for humans, livestock and farmed fish.
In fact, insects are ubiquitous and fill a significant portion of the nutritional needs of wildlife. They are the major food of amphibians, reptiles and birds of all kinds. Occasionally, they advantageously supplement the diet of bears, raccoons, wild boars and herbivores, which ingest them together with leaves. Apes delight in them regularly and even use tools to capture them, by the introduction of a branch in an anthill or termite mound. The daily diet of a partridge, a turkey, and any other wild fowl or free-range domestic fowl, consists largely of insects, worms and slugs. They are also a major source of sustenance for many freshwater and saltwater fish, sometimes being their only source of food after hatching.
Was the first insect a crustacean of the primary era that adapted to the terrestrial environment? The answer is up to entomologists, but we know that they are close relatives: the insect is the cousin of the crustacean. More than 550 million years old, their common ancestors the arthropods roamed the Earth. Insects have accompanied most terrestrial creatures, past and present. For example, dinosaurs, who disappeared over 65 million years ago, rubbed shoulders daily with insects. Indeed, mosquitoes were found intact in prehistoric amber.
Insects are complete animals in a small format. They synthesize essential amino acids and their ingestion is highly beneficial, excluding for the rare inedible specimens. Their body is composed of three hinged segments, covered with a cuticle of chitin, which is their external skeleton. There are more than 1 million known insect species and an estimated 30 million possible species on earth.
Nutritional value varies somewhat from one species to another, depending on what they consume. Overall, this is equivalent or superior to the quality of all types of meat consumed by humans, whether from herbivores, poultry or fish. Thanks to their metabolism and their special diet, their flesh contains all the essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fats, vitamins and other nutrients, allowing predators to live healthily without any dietary deficiency.
Meanwhile man has a disdain for them, or even despises them, more than he appreciates them, due to misunderstanding and ignorance. Yet insects are essential: They comprise more than half of the living species in the world. As for their weight, it would be difficult to make a just estimate, which would probably amount to trillions of tons. Just regarding ants, they number 12,000 species, with probably still thousands yet to be discovered. In quantitative terms, there are more than a million ants for every human being on earth.
“Insects are very good food for humans, livestock, poultry and fish. They are healthy, nutritious and an excellent source of protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron, calcium, vitamins and essential nutrients. Given their high protein content, insects could advantageously replace animal meal, seeds and oils in animal feed since the prices of these rapidly increasing. The sustainable use of edible insects can contribute to the conservation of natural resources in general and thus play a valuable role in biodiversity conservation.”
The consumption of insects, as a source of protein and nutrients for livestock, is emerging as a realistic and pragmatic solution. The founders of Larvatria have faith in the science of nature. They intend to synchronize the nutritional, environmental and economic record straight for the twenty-first century realities. They work to change the market for animal feed, to provide a sustainable solution, ingenious and easy replacement to fishmeal and fish oils. But insects are only a part of the solution. They need to be farmed industrially in a healthy and safe manner, without compromising food for other species.