While Nigeria struggles with a flinching economy, South Korean government makes money selling insects, through Kim Jong Hee initiative.
Kim Jong Hee, who has been raising insects since 2000 for animal feed, began farming mealworms and crickets in 2013. Wondering how it’s eaten? Bae Su-Hyeon’s lunch of sweet potato soup and funghi pasta has bugs in it. They’re part of the recipe.
An 18-year-old student having lunch with a friend at Papillon’s Kitchen, a Seoul restaurant specializing in insects, says she didn’t feel like eating insects until she tasted it.
The worms are sometimes hydrolyzed into powder to make pasta and soup while, also available in whole for some crunchy insect snacks. The South Korea’s insect industry was worth 304 billion won ($278 million) in 2015, although food for humans accounted for just 6 billion won of that with the rest coming from uses like animal feed.
Insect-eating, also known as entomophagy, has long been common in much of the world where boiled silky worm pupae, or beondegi, are a popular snack. Even in Nigeria, people eat different kinds of insects, from wood worms to cricket. Although a few of them are commercialized, it hasn’t gotten to the point of generating revenue for the nation.
South Korea is looking at expanding its insect industry as a source of agricultural income by promoting more consumption. To that effect, the government is trying to make people more comfortable with the idea of eating insects, in ground form, hydrolysed to extract oils and protein and turned into food. The government also plans on making 530 billion won from selling insects by 2020 from the over 724 functional insect farms in existence.
The chief executive of the private-sector Korean Edible Insect Laboratory and owner of Papillon’s Kitchen, Kim Young Wook said the key to winning over skeptical customers was the presentation and packaging of the product.
“If people taste foods after having a good first impression, and find they are delicious, that’s everything, because taste speaks for itself, he said. “In the past, people used to shake their heads when they thought of bugs, but now more people believe insects are edible.”
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Insects are a rich source of fat, protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The composition of unsaturated omega-3 and six fatty acids in mealworms is comparable to that in fish and higher than in beef and pork. Therefore, entomophagy could play a key role in food security and environmental protection as insects are more in abundance than cattle, chicken and other proteins.