That’s right folks, every year we eat insects. Around 500g of them. Consumed unknowingly by you. At least that’s what world-renowned entomologist and professor at the University of Wangeningen in the Netherlands, Marcel Dicke stated in his studies in 2010. According to Dicke, insects are found almost everywhere in our diet: juices, fruits and vegetables, flour, bread, cakes… and it’s almost always in processed or packaged foods, rather than fresh, organic produce.
For example, according to the Food and Drug Administration, your average glass of orange juice could legally contain five fruit flies! While in a 100g bag of frozen vegetables, there could be around 50 aphids, mites or thrips, as well as some caterpillar larvae. Mmm, caterpillar larvae.
“Insect fragments” seem readily available in most tinned/packaged goods. Things such as insect heads, legs and thoraxes are often found as unlisted ingredients. Canned tomatoes, for example, reportedly contain a maggot for every 250 millilitres, while 10g of hops can harbour 2,500 aphids! Realistically most of us eat insects on a daily basis.
And don’t they say people consume at least four spiders during their sleep in their lifetime?
Insects in Food Colouring
And that’s not all. The food colouring E120, also known as carmine, crimson lake or carminic acid, is made from cochineal, a small insect from Peru. It’s used in a lot of deli items, like sausage and ham, as well as some drinks and sweets. Starbucks have been named publicly for using the dye in many of their food items and they’re not the only ones. In case you were wondering, it takes around 70,000 insects to make a pound of the dye. Another way you eat insects – unknowingly!
But, at least these dyes do have nutritional value. Other synthetic dyes carry far greater risk to your health, such as Red No. 2 and Red No. 4, which are derived from either coal or petroleum byproducts. Yikes!
So, if you like Haribo and drinking Coca Cola, surely eating insects won’t be so bad after all…