Worms can add meaty flavor to food

Flavors made from mealworms could one day be used in convenience foods as a source of protein

Insects can be converted into meat-like flavors, helping to provide a greener alternative to traditional meat options, scientists have found.

Mealworms, the larval form of the yellow flour beetle, were cooked with sugar by researchers who found that the result is a meaty flavor that could one day be used in prepared foods as a source of protein.

While mealworms have so far been used primarily as pet treats or fishing bait, they have potential as a food source for humans to help obtain the recognizable flavors of meat without the harmful impacts to the climate, as well as to direct air and water. contamination, by raising cattle, pigs and other foods of animal origin.

“Insects are a nutritious and healthy food source with high amounts of high-quality fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, just like meat,” says In Hee Cho, a researcher at Wonkwang University in South Korea. led the study.

“Many consumers seriously like and need animal protein in our diet. However, traditional agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than cars. On the other hand, raising insects only requires a fraction of land, water and feed compared to traditional animal husbandry.”

Worms are considered superfoods

Cho said edible insects such as mealworms and crickets are “superfoods” that communities in Asia, Africa and South America have long enjoyed. However, people in Europe and North America are generally more reluctant to eat insects, despite recent inroads by various restaurants and supermarkets to offer consumers insect options.

Using mealworms as a meat seasoning could help fill this gap, the researchers hope. The new studio, which will present itself to the American Chemical Society this week, found that the flavors were released when the maggots of the harina were heated with sugars, with the proteins and the sugars interacting and caramelizing in a variety of tasty and similar flavors. meat.

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Different cooking processes produced different results, the researchers found. Steamed mealworms give off a sort of sweet corn aroma, while the grilled and fried versions have more similarities to shrimp. A panel of volunteers was used in smell tests to determine the most meat-like favors of those invented.

ecological effect

Global food production is responsible for about one-third of all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, with meat-raising responsible for most of these emissions.

The pasture and livestock feed consume around 80% of the cultivated lands of the Earth, with everything from the eructos of the cows to the massive deforestation of the land to give way to the pastures, which causes emissions that heat the planet.

Scientists say avoiding meat and dairy is the most important way to reduce the environmental impact on the planet, although eating meat remains popular in the West and is now gaining ground among an emerging wealthy class in China and India.

Insects, which can be raised in large numbers in small spaces with a fraction of the pollution of traditional meat, have been cited by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as a potentially valuable source of protein to feed a growing world population that is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050.

By Oliver Milman. Article in English

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