Insects foods in Indonesia

Insects foods in Indonesia

June 03, 2016

Insects foods in Indonesia

While FAO advises to rethink our aversion to insects as foods, some countries like Indonesia offer a wide range of dishes that use insects as the main ingredient. The report from Zul Astri, from Indinesia, member of BCFN Alumni.

Even if BCFN promotes the Mediterranean diet, it also supports the local food traditions, tas they can offer great advantages in terms of availability and sustainability. Insects consumption is one of those tradition that could help the Planet to reach one of BCFN goals, a sustainable availability of good quality food for all.
It’s time to rethink our aversion to insects as food, advises the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in a report published in 2013 and entitled “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security”. The nutritional values of edible insects are highly variable, not least because of the wide variety of species. Like most foods, preparation and processing methods (drying, boiling or frying) applied before consumption will also influence nutritional composition.

The nutritional values
A few scattered studies analyze the nutritional value of edible insects; however, these data are not always comparable due to the above-mentioned variations between insects and because of the varying methodologies employed to analyze the compounds. Moreover, where commonly consumed, insects comprise only a part of local diets, whose percentage can vary considerably. For example, in certain African communities insects form only 5–10 percent of the protein consumed (Ayieko and Oriaro, 2008). Nevertheless, because of their nutritional value they are still a highly significant food source for human populations. Rumpold and Schlüter (2013) compiled nutrient compositions for 236 edible insects as published in the literature (based on dry matter). Although significant variation was found in the data, many edible insects provide satisfactory amounts of energy and protein, meet amino acid requirements for humans, are high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and are rich in micronutrients such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc, as well as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin and, in some cases, folic acid.

The indonesian delicacies
Traditional foods are those accepted by a community – through habit and tradition – to be desirable and appropriate sources of food. Traditional foods are accessible locally and within a given natural environment from farming or wild harvesting and constitute important elements in dietary regimens worldwide. People in Africa, Asia and Latin America eat insects as regular parts of their diets. They may do so not only because conventional meats such as beef, fish and chicken are unavailable and insects therefore are vital sources of protein, but also because insects are considered important food items, often delicacies. Indonesia is known as a country that has a diversity of amazing food. Each region has a different regional food. So what about the typical Indonesian food made from insects?

The Sago maggot
Kamaro tribe who live in Timika Regency, Papua, has more than the famous wood carving and amazing traditional dance. It also offers experience of eating sago maggots for extreme-foodies. Papuan people have long been eating the sago maggots raw. However, some people also cook it by boiling or sautéing it with vegetables. Some others skewed the maggots into satay.

The Nyale Worm
In addition to its beautiful beach, Lombok has a tradition of Bau Nyale ceremony. The word ‘bau’ means to catch, and ‘nyale’ is sea worms usually found in the holes of reefs. Bau nyale is held by local people in certain months, usually around February-March when it is the season for the worms to come out of their holes. Local people believe the Nyale worm is advantageous for health.

Fried Grasshoppers
Gunung Kidul in the south of Yogyakarta also offers fried grasshoppers that are sold as snack. The fried grasshoppers are available in original, hot and sweet-hot flavors. For the first-timers, original flavors are recommended. This snack is believed to contain Vitamin A and proteins. Other insects such as crickets, moths, and ungkrung (cocoon) are also offered as chips.

Fried Crickets
Thailand is accustomed to sold fried crickets, as sometimes it happens also in Indonesia.
In the area of Ciamis, West Java, people crickets became very typical. They are fried and then spiced up.

Teak Tree cocoon
In some areas that have many teak trees, for instance in East Java, many people use the cocoon or "enthung" for food. Cocoon of teak trees is usually fried and flavored with spices.

Wasps are often found in East Java. Farmers do not discard the rest of the harvest usually inhabited by wasp larvae. They will process the wasp to be a culinary delight, the Batok wasps filling, with spices and coconut. Since it is believed that insects have high protein content, they began to be used as food in some areas in Indonesia. Some are used as a side dish and some are prepared as snacks.

The polarity of views surrounding the practice of entomophagy requires tailor-made communication approaches. In parts of the world where entomophagy is well established, such as in Indonesia and tropics, communication strategies need to promote and preserve the tradition of edible insects as valuable sources of nutrition in order to counter the growing westernization of diets. In areas where food security is fragile, edible insects need to be promoted as key foods and feeds for nutritional, cultural and economic reasons. However, Western societies still largely averse to the practice of eating insects will require tailored strategies that address the disgust factor and break down common myths surrounding the practice.
Governments, ministries of agriculture and even knowledge institutions in developed countries will need to be targeted, given that insects as food and feed are still largely absent from political and research agendas” says the FAO document. “Insects are still viewed as pests by a large majority of people, despite the increasing literature pointing to their valuable role in the diets of humans and animals”.

(with the contribution of Zul Astri, M. Humanities, BCFN Alumni)

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