The quest for alternative protein sources
According to the United Nations, 2 billion people consume insects as part of a traditional diet. Insects are touted as being healthy and nutritious alternatives to mainstream protein staples such as chicken, pork or beef. They are also said to be a good source of healthy fats as well as high in calcium, iron and zinc. Is it only a matter of time before a bowl of sautéed caterpillars lands on a table near you?
The growing trend for protein has evolved over the years, and now the focus is on plants, which provide lean, affordable sources of protein, that also require fewer natural resources to produce. Our quest for alternative proteins in the west has made way for even more adventurous ingredients. For example, recipes made with cricket flour or even dishes sold in restaurants such as wax moth larvae tacos. Think your stomach isn’t made to handle it? A study recently published in Molecular Biology and Evolution suggests otherwise. In fact, their research shows that insects were an extremely important food source for our primate ancestors including monkeys, apes, and humans. Several copies of the CHIA gene necessary to break down exoskeletons were found when evaluating 34 primates. Today, most living primates have one copy of the gene. In other words, we are still built to consume insects - if we wanted to!
While it is potentially nutritious to dine on alternative protein sources, fruits and vegetables are much more appetizing and no less healthy. A combination of spinach and collards sautéed in olive oil topped with lentils can provide the protein, healthy fats, calcium, iron and zinc delivered from insects. If we’ve piqued your interest in protein alternatives, but you are not quite ready to dine on beetles and crickets, try our Indonesian Peanut Salad, it features tofu which can easily be found at your local grocery store.
Published March 1, 2018