A survey by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has revealed that the majority of people believe that edible insects could become a sustainable source of food in the future. The survey was conducted as part of a larger study by Marta Ros, a student of the UOC doctoral program in the Information and Knowledge Society.
“In recent years in Western Europe, studies on entomophagy have drawn the attention of many researchers interested in identifying parameters that could improve the acceptability of insect consumption in order to introduce insects as a sustainable source of protein into the future diet,” wrote the researchers. “Analyzing the factors involved in consumer acceptability in the Mediterranean area could help to improve their future acceptance.”
Among more than a thousand survey respondents, 58 percent agreed that insect consumption could become a reliable source of protein.
The results also showed that only 13 percent of the survey participants had ever eaten insects. Some of the reasons given for not eating insects were disgust (38%), lack of custom (15%), doubts around food safety (9%), and cultural reasons (6%).
In addition, 82 percent of respondents said that they were not prepared to include insects in their normal diet, and 71 percent said they would not cook insects at home. Furthermore, 81 percent said the public would not be receptive to dishes containing insects at a restaurant.
Despite these protests, respondents were far more optimistic about insect consumption when asked if it may become a common practice in the future. Nearly 60 percent agreed, seeing the potential for insects to become a sustainable food source and help support a booming global population.
“The substantial improvements in people’s health status, hygiene conditions and life expectancy, in the majority of countries over the past 50 years, means that the world population is predicted to increase considerably by 2050,” wrote the study authors.
“The rising cost of animal protein production and the increasing environmental pressure on agriculture and livestock farming necessitate the search for productive alternatives and innovative techniques for food production which take into account the nutritional, environmental and sociocultural dimensions of food sustainability.”
The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Editor
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