Are crickets healthy food? Why does a Canadian mother feed them to her 18-month-old baby?

Are crickets healthy food?  Why does a Canadian mother feed them to her 18-month-old baby?

Many people find the idea of ​​eating insects unsettling, but entomophagy is becoming more common.

A mother recently said that she feeds crickets to her 18-month-old baby because they are “a great source of protein.”

She has stated that the toddler “loves” to eat the bugs and that doing so has enabled her to significantly reduce her monthly grocery expenditure.

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Let’s examine why the mother feeds her child bugs, whether doing so is beneficial, and if there are risks involved.

Also read: Would you eat mealworms and crickets? The EU says it’s safe to do so

Mom feeds crickets to her toddler

A Canadian mother revealed a surprise modification in her infant’s diet in an effort to lower the family’s grocery expenses.

According to Insiders, Tiffany Leigh, a food writer from Toronto, said, “As a food writer, I’ve always been the type of person who will try anything – including entomophagy, otherwise known as eating insects. I’ve tasted everything from fried tarantula legs to scorpion on a stick. I’ve also enjoyed crickets and ants when traveling to countries like Thailand and Vietnam, and I love how they were incorporated into local dishes to enhance their textural appeal.”

When her daughter is old enough to start eating food, she decides to add bugs to her meals – which she calls a much cheaper way to provide a toddler with protein.

The mother-of-one explained that since she started mixing crickets into her baby’s diet, she doesn’t have to spend as much on “more traditionally expensive proteins like beef, chicken, and pork.”

She added that the change has resulted in her cutting her food bill down from $250-$300 a week to $150-$200 a week.

“(My daughter is) at the age where she’s fearless and curious, so this is an opportunity time to try more ‘exotic’ foods that aren’t considered a dietary staple in North America,” she explained, adding that “(Crickets are ) a nutritional powerhouse. A mere two tablespoons of cricket powder provides 100 per cent of the daily protein needs of a baby.”

Also read: Neuro-parasite makes dead insect walk after taking control of its brain, the internet is shocked

Putting insects on the menu, safely

Tiffany told the publication that she originally started by giving her kid Cricket Puffs, which she purchases from Entomo Farms, a store that specializes in selling sweets derived from crickets.

The Puffs, she claimed, resemble Cheetos but have a “far less salty and fibrous finish to them.”

The puffs, which are a fantastic “source of protein, fiber, and vitamin B12,” are produced with organic lentils, fava beans, and cricket flour, according to the Entomo Farms website.

There are three distinct flavours: BBQ, Cheddar, and Cheddar Jalapeno.

Are crickets healthy food? Why does a Canadian mother feed them to her 18 month old baby
Tiffany told the publication that she initially started by giving her kid Cricket Puffs. Image Courtesy: Entomo Farms website

“(My baby) took it to them immediately. She devoured them with delight and didn’t notice the slight textural difference,” said Tiffany.

She then attempted to feed her daughter whole roasted crickets, but this didn’t go as well.

When she took the first one out of the bag, Tiffany confessed that she was scared because she could “see their little heads, thoraxes, and abdomens all clustered together.”

After taking a piece, her kid made it apparent that she didn’t like them and “cucked the rest onto the floor.”

Tiffany persisted and eventually began blending the whole roasted insects into items like pancake mix or mac and cheese sauce.

It was a huge success because the little one was unable to tell there were any crickets in it.

Are crickets healthy food? Why does a Canadian mother feed them to her 18 month old baby
Entomo Farms is a store that specializes in selling sweets derived from cricket. Image Courtesy: Entomo Farms website

“When the ground crickets were “hidden” in pancakes, we had better luck. My kid seemed unaffected by the batter’s appearance change,” she said, even though you could see the black particles in it.

“She took a big bite and clamored for more. I ate some and could understand why – you couldn’t tell that crickets were in these fluffy cakes. The only difference was that they had a slightly nutty finish. For dinner, I sprinkled some of the powder into our mac-and-cheese sauce, tossed it with some pasta shells, and again, she couldn’t taste any different. She then made the sign for ‘more’ – it was a winner.”

The writer said she now plans to “incorporate more edible insects” into her daughter’s meals as she gets older, including ants, grasshoppers, and worms.

Also read: Explained: What are plastic-munching superworms which could revolutionize recycling?

Benefits

Dailymail Quoted Venus Kalami, a board-certified pediatric dietitian and nutritionist at Solid Starts, as saying that bugs are indeed “packed with key nutrients like high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, minerals like iron (some have more than beef) and zinc, vital B vitamins, and more.”

“During infancy, a child is particularly receptive to exploring a wide variety of foods – a strong argument for introducing insects early on and getting ahead of any negative stereotypes around eating bugs, such as being ‘scary’ or ‘inedible’,” she added .

Crickets are commonly used as food because they provide a variety of nutrients, including protein.

According to a review study from 2020 published in PubMed Central, the majority of edible bugs provide more protein than more popular animal-based protein sources including goat, chicken, and pork.

Crickets are a rich source of fat, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, and iron in addition to protein, reported Healthline.

Growing food-producing insects like crickets may be more environmentally responsible and sustainable than rearing hens, pigs, and cattle.

Livestock is responsible for 14.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Chitin, an insoluble fiber found in crickets, has been linked in certain studies to improve gut health. Chitin might function as a prebiotic, encouraging the development of good bacteria in the stomach.

Risks involved

According to Healthlinedespite the fact that eating crickets may have a lot of health advantages, a section of people is still skeptical of these products because of safety issues.

There may be some additional safety issues with consuming insects.

For example, research published in peer review journals Wiley indicates that those who are allergic to dust mites or shellfish may also be allergic to eating insects.

Some researchers issue a warning about the possibility that insects like crickets could behave as carriers of viruses that could infect people and animals.

The outlet cited a 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine, which examined bug samples from 300 pet stores and household insect farms in Central Europe, stating that parasites were discovered in more than 81 per cent of the insect farms.

The researchers discovered parasites that might potentially infect people in 30 per cent of those cases.

However, this does not necessarily imply that eating insects is harmful.

But if insect farms are raising crickets for food, they must follow strict safety regulations.

Notably, more research is needed to completely understand the possibility of allergic reactions linked to consuming insects because there is currently an absence of research in this area.

With input from agencies

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