Stink bugs, termites could soon be part of your diet (+video)
Stink bugs, mealworms, termites, and African palm weevils could feed the world, proposed this year's Hult Prize winners. Stink bugs are already on the menu in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.
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Though people often refer to the larvae of several different moths as witchetty grubs, some sources specify the larval stage of the cossid moth (Endoxyla leucomochla) as the true witchetty grub. The grubs are harvested from underground, where they feed upon the roots of Australian trees such as eucalyptus and black wattle trees.Skip to next paragraph
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Want to get rid of the termites gnawing at your floorboards? Just do like they do in South America and Africa: Take advantage of the rich nutritional quality of these insects by frying, sun-drying, smoking or steaming termites in banana leaves.
Termites generally consist of up to 38 percent protein, and one particular Venezuelan species, Syntermes aculeosus, is 64 percent protein. Termites are also rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty acids and amino acids such as tryptophan.
African palm weevil
A delicacy among many African tribes, the palm weevil (Rhychophorus phoenicis) is collected off the trunks of palm trees. About 4 inches (10 centimeters) long and two inches (5 cm) wide, the weevils are easily pan-fried because their bodies are full of fats, though they're also eaten raw.
A 2011 report from the Journal of Insect Science found that the African palm weevil is an excellent source of several nutrients such as potassium, zinc, iron and phosphorous, as well as several amino acids and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Their name certainly doesn't lend itself to culinary appeal, but stink bugs (Hemiptera order) are consumed throughout Asia, South America and Africa. The insects are a rich source of important nutrients, including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
Because stink bugs release a noxious scent, they are not usually eaten raw unless the head is first removed, which discards their scent-producing secretions. Otherwise, they are roasted, or soaked in water and sun-dried. As an added benefit, the soaking water — which absorbs the noxious secretions — can then be used as a pesticide to keep termites away from houses.
The larvae of the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor) is one of the only insects consumed in the Western world: They are raised in the Netherlands for human consumption (as well as for animal feed), partly because they thrive in a temperate climate.
The nutritional value of mealworms is hard to beat: They're rich in copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium. Mealworms are also comparable to beef in terms of protein content, but have a greater number of healthy, polyunsaturated fats.
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