The Paleo Protein You Keep Forgetting


What if I was to tell you that astronauts were harvesting a “super” food from mars that was easily digested, environmentally sustainable to produce, packed with protein, easily mixed into any dish, and was 100% paleo friendly… you’d be pretty stoked, right? Well I have good news for you, that food is already here, it’s all around us, and you’ve been ignoring it this whole time… insects!

That’s right, the little critters that you have been trying so hard to keep away from your meals, are actually a tasty and nutritious food themselves! This common misconception is largely, of course, due to our ubiquitous attitude that, “bugs are gross”. In fact, if insects were put into their own dietary food group (although technically they should probably get lumped with meat) they would quite possibly be the single most neglected group by the western world. However, our sociocultural despise for these little protein bombs has nothing to do with our natural food preferences, it’s simply the result of a recently nurtured and erroneous mindset –revolving around the idea that bugs simply are not human food.

The truth of the matter is, insects have long been apart of the human diet, and many anthropologists speculate that they may have made up a large portion of early human protein intake. In fact, the entomophagy (practice of eating bugs) continues today, with recent USDA estimates that nearly 80% of the world’s population includes bugs in their diet.

This probably has you thinking…“What? Who is eating bugs in this day and age!?” The answer is a lot of developing countries who purposely work them into their meals, and also the developed countries… where people like you unknowingly eat them everyday! That’s right significant amounts of insects find their way into tons of the foods that we consume on a regular basis. The FDA Food Defect Action Levels states that on average there is 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams of wheat flour…and that’s just wheat flour. Not to mention nearly all canned and processed foods, check it out. But don’t let your unknown daily bug intake scare you; the FDA states that these levels are perfectly safe… and actually may be good for us.

This is because insects are actually extremely nutritious. They are low in carbohydrates, full of nutrients, and packed with protein. According to Exo, a company-making insect based power bars,

Cricket flour is 69 percent protein by dry weight, compared to 29 percent for sirloin, or 31 percent for chicken.”

Best of all, edible insects most widely available in the form of a ground meal or “flour”.  This means it can be easily added to any number of dishes as a breading, thickener, or even mixed to make a protein shake.

As an added bonus, insects are also an extremely energy efficient and environmentally sustainable food source. The USDA highlights the awesome potential for the sustainability of insects by explaining…

1 kg of live animal weight beef in a typical United States production system requires 10 kg of feed. Insects require far less feed- such as the production of crickets with 1 kg of live animal weight requiring as little as 1.7 kg of feed. When these figures are adjusted for edible weight, crickets are 12 times more efficient than cattle.”

Point being… if you put 2 pounds of corn (or food scraps) in a box with crickets, it will be transformed into more than a pound of high-quality-human-edible protein.

Environmentally friendly, easy to prepare, nutrient dense, and bursting with protein… Really though, what other food can boast stats like that?

Forget kale… my “super food” vote goes to crickets.

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