Tag Archives: food

Benefits of Eating Insects

Have you ever been disgusted by a cockroach or a spider? Of course you have! You may find the sight of a bug disgusting but for many cultures eating bugs is considered normal. In fact, there are 2 billion people worldwide who regularly eat bugs as part of their diet. Below is a video of some of the delicious dishes you can create with bugs.

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Credit: darrenb3

There are many benefits to eating bugs. They are a cheap food source, they provide important nutrients, and eating them is environmentally friendly.

Bugs are everywhere. They can be found in your own backyard. However, bugs in urban areas are not safe to eat due to the possible contamination from pesticides. Still, many bugs in the wild are edible and pose no risk. There are also farms which specialize in raising bugs for consumption. Since bugs can be found everywhere and are abundant, they are a cheap source of food. Insects make up most of the biomass of terrestrial animals and represent 80 percent of the world’s species. What makes them even cheaper is the low cost of raising them. They do not require the specialized care of normal livestock. Of course not all types of bugs are edible but there is still a huge variety to choose from.

Even though bugs are small, they can be very nutritious. Bugs contain almost no cholesterol and are chockfull of protein. Bugs also contain fat but that fat is mostly the unsaturated kind which is healthier. Another added bonus is the absence of pesticides and growth hormones commonly used in raising livestock.


This chemical is Roxarsone which is used in chicken feed to increase growth. Credit: wikipedia

Eating bugs is also beneficial for the environment. Since bugs are so abundant, eating them is unlikely to pose a threat to their survival as a species. The following chart shows the percentage of species in each animal group and how endangered they are. From the chart, we can conclude that insects suffer the least from being endangered.


A huge amount of other animal groups are endangered compared to the insect group. Credit: eoearth

These three benefits may not be enough reason to convince people to try eating bugs. This is understandable so in order to convince you here is a video that gives more reasons to switch to a diet of bugs.

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Credit: AsapSCIENCE



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Science in the Kitchen

We are accustomed to thinking that science is conducted in a lab, but science is everywhere – even in your own home. Cooking is often viewed as a household skill, but it is actually a science, specifically, the science of ingredients and processes that change their tastes and forms to create a delicious product.

Eggs are a simple ingredient, and I’m sure many of us have experience cooking with it. Scrambled eggs, meringues, and Hollandaise sauce are all based on the humble egg, and yet yield such different results. How? It is all down to the science of the cooking methods!

Credit: Daniel Novta, Flickr

Credit: Daniel Novta, Flickr


Uncooked egg is composed of a clear, runny egg white and thick, yellow egg yolk. Egg whites are primarily water and protein, while yolks contain a higher percentage of proteins and considerably more lipids. Recall that proteins are composed of chains of amino acids. While the bonds linking individual amino acids are strong covalent bonds, the bonds holding the chains in its 3-dimensional structure are weaker hydrogen bonds. When the egg is heated, the heat denatures the proteins by breaking the weaker hydrogen bonds. This causes the proteins to unravel from their native configuration, leaving chains of unfolded protein. When these chains encounter one other, hydrogen bonds form between them at random, resulting in a network of interconnected proteins, which hardens the egg. Light can no longer penetrate through this mass of protein, and the egg white turns from clear to white. When the egg is heated for too long, the egg hardens too much and gives off a “rubbery” texture.

Sunny side up! Credit: truds09, Flickr

Sunny side up!
Credit: truds09, Flickr

On a tangent: scientists recently devised a way to “un-scramble” an egg while investigating cancer research techniques. When cancer-associated proteins are produced in a lab, they often come out as a jumbled protein network akin to heated egg whites. This method of reversing denatured proteins may make cancer research more time and cost efficient.

"Un-scrambling" an egg Credit: Draw Science

“Un-scrambling” an egg
Credit: Draw Science


Meringues, soufflés, and tiramisu – all these light and fluffy textures come from beating egg whites. Beating egg whites adds air into the mixture, but the physical action also denatures the proteins, exposing hydrophobic and hydrophilic areas. As with heating, the denatured proteins cross-link to form a protein network, but with hydrophobic areas facing towards the air bubbles and hydrophilic areas facing away. The air bubbles are “locked” and incorporated into the network.

Whisked egg whites Credit: Wilson Hui, Flickr

Whisked egg whites
Credit: Wilson Hui, Flickr

This does not work with yolks however, which contain lipids. The lipids interfere with the formation of the protein network, competing against proteins for a space to bind to. Recipes that call for egg foams will warn for careful separation of whites and yolks.

Chemical process of egg foam Credit: A Dash of Science

Chemical process of egg foam
Credit: A Dash of Science


Hollandaise sauce, a mixture of emulsified egg yolk and butter Credit: cyclonebill, Flickr

Hollandaise sauce, a mixture of emulsified egg yolk and butter
Credit: cyclonebill, Flickr

Egg yolks have their own use as an emulsifier, combining oil and water mixtures that would otherwise separate. The hydrophobic/hydrophilic nature of amino acids in many yolk proteins (e.g. lecithin) attract water in some areas and oil in others, creating a thorough mixture of the two substances within the protein chains. Beating the mixture with a whisk further helps incorporate the liquids. This allows us to enjoy delicious creamy mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauces without them separating first!

Food for thought next time you’re pondering the scientific reasoning behind the steps in your recipe book!

– Peggy Hung