In a new scientific study that will be presented to the American Chemical Society this week, scientists found that the flavours released from mealworms during various forms of cooking produce multiple meaty flavour variations.
With traditional livestock farming consistently adding strain to environmental resources, as they attempt to meet the increasing global demand for meat from a growing population, scientists search for alternatives that can satisfy individuals’ dietary and flavour needs. Researchers have found that mealworms, the larval form of the yellow mealworm beetle, may be able to do both.
While mealworms are primarily used as snacks for pets and as bait while fishing, the study shows they have the potential to be used as a human food source to obtain the familiar flavours of meat without the negative effects of farming beef, pork, and other animal-based meals.
Researchers stated that the mealworms could potentially be used in food as a flavoursome source of protein as they found that when the mealworms were cooked in sugar, they developed a variety of meaty and savoury flavours as a result of the proteins and sugars reacting and caramelising. The researchers discovered that varied cooking techniques led to various results. The mealworms smelt somewhat like sweet corn when they were steam-cooked but were more like shrimp when they were roasted or deep-fried.
The head of the study and researcher at Wonkwang University in South Korea, In Hee Cho, stated that insects such as mealworms were not only great sources of protein but also provided vitamins, minerals, and high amounts of fatty acids. Noting that traditional livestock farming contributed to massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, Cho added that insect farming would require a fraction of the land and resources of farming animals.
A third of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere is caused by global food production, and the majority of these emissions come from raising livestock. According to scientists, avoiding meat and dairy products is the best strategy to lessen the human impact on the environment.