Feed For Edible Insects

Livestock feed is especially important for insects. One of the reasons is that we consume the whole insect, including what is in their gut. Their gut can be purged by not feeding them for a few days before harvest. How effective this is varies species to species and I would say is probably not worth doing. I feel a better approach is use high quality feed. You can also gut load insects. It involves feeding insects particular nutrients right before harvest so when they are consumed, the contents of the gut are also ingested, providing additional nutrients. This practice is used when feeding crickets to lizards so they get all of the nutrients they need. I think this is not necessary for people because there will be getting other nutrients from other parts of their diet. An idea to explore is to add seasoning to the feed and see if the flavor is apparent. Cinnamon might pair well with the nutty flavor is some insects.

Another reason why feed is important is for sustainability. Sustainability is a core reason why we should be incorporating insects into our diets. Insect have a high feed conversion rate and low waste. In Thailand, high protein animal feed is used to raise insects according to a recent FAO document (http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3246e/i3246e.pdf). Feeding insects chicken defeats the purpose.

So what should we feed insects? I feel the best answer is an organic vegan diet. Let take a look at wax worm feed. The main components of wax worm feed that I have seen are honey, oats and glycerin. The glycerin is added to control water availability and texture. It would be better if there were formulations that don’t have glycerin. Honey can be replaced by high fructose corn syrup to lower costs. Maybe cane sugar syrup will be a suitable compromise. There is considerable flexibility in insect feed. As a consumer, you will ultimately decide what is in the insect feed. But please, no chicken.

I feel that producers need to be transparent about the feed they use to raise their insects. By doing this they can gain customer trust and customers will feel more comfortable consuming insects. Western culture feels eating insects is taboo. Educating consumers about what insects eat will help alleviate this issue. Open and honest communication with consumers and potential customers is the best way to gain acceptance and engagement with entomophagy.

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