How Much Of An Insect Is Edible?

Edible insects can be eaten raw or in processed form – roasted, toasted, fried, boiled, ground into flours, and extruded into food additives.

As a matter of fact, insects are not only sold whole (plain roasted or seasoned) for you to snack on, close to 400 edible-insect-related businesses are operating in the Western world, producing a variety of insect-based products ranging from protein powders, energy bars, confectionary, beverages and more substantial foods.

Most insects can be eaten whole. For instance, crickets in the last nymphal stage can be eaten whole, but when eaten as a snack, some prefer that legs (approx. 17% of total weight), which are very sharp and can scratch your throat, be removed, and because the chitinous exoskeleton (approx. 3%) is indigestible, the percentage edible weight amounts to 80%.

If you feel like eating scorpions, which are edible, make sure to cut of the poisonous stinger first. With dragonflies you might want to pull the legs and wings off, although they are edible, they might get stuck in your throat.

The fact that you can eat most insects whole is an important factor when comparing various food sources. Feed conversion ratios (FCRs: kilogram feed in relation to kilogram live weight) are particularly important, as an increased demand for meat will cause a more than proportional demand for grain and high-protein feeds. In contrast, edible insects are a much more sustainable source of proteins.

The Importance of Feed Conversion Ratio

FCRs vary widely depending on the class of animal and the production practices used to produce the meat. In this regard, crickets are twice as efficient as chickens, 4 times more efficient than pigs and 12 times more than cattle.

The value for other insects that can be eaten whole is even higher.

production efficiencies of meats and crickets