The European Union’s landmark decision last week to approve insects for human consumption was a victory for grubs and maggots — and people — the world over. The approval confers a kind of dignity to the lowly, protein-rich microbeasts that we foolishly dismiss as pests, and delivers a clear signal that the insect proteins industry is poised for significant growth. Above all, it paves the way for an alternative protein source that should play a critical role in feeding a hotter, more populous world.
Before this triggers your gag reflex, let’s be clear: For most consumers, the EU decision won’t translate to bugs in your burgers and mealworms in your macaroni. Yes, insects will play a far more integral role in human food systems going forward, but they won’t likely be a direct form of protein. Instead, they’re becoming an increasingly valuable indirect food source — a feedstock for poultry, farmed fish, pork and beef which are currently fattened on environmentally costly soy and corn feeds.