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Baby eats bugs: Mom whose daughter consumes crickets insists they're healthy and 'cheaper' than meat

One Canadian mom is touting the benefits of consuming bugs.

She’s even raising her baby on a diet that includes crickets.

“I’m a food writer and will try anything at least once, including eating bugs,” freelance writer Tiffany Leigh wrote recently.

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“I started adding insects to our meals to cut down our grocery bill,” she also wrote for Insider, adding, “Crickets are a cheaper alternative to meat, and my 18-month-old couldn’t tell the difference.”

In emailed comments to Fox News Digital, Leigh said that “surprisingly,” it wasn’t hard to “feed my baby crickets.”

Tiffany Leigh and baby/crickets

Mom and food writer Tiffany Leigh, along with her baby girl. Leigh said her daughter is “receptive to trying anything once.”  (Tiffany Leigh)

She continued, “She’s receptive to trying anything once. While she flat-out rejected whole bugs, she was happy to eat them when blended in oatmeal, pancake batter and pasta sauce.”

Leigh noted she was able to tour Entomo Farms in Norwood, Ontario, where she learned about the nutritional value of bugs, adding that she has learned they are a “high source of fiber and essential vitamins [and] minerals.”

She added, “I’m not a vegan but try to be mindful of what we consume as a family, and learn about where our food comes from.”

Edible insects are a “sustainable source of protein with less of a carbon footprint than beef.”

Dr. Meg Meeker, a Michigan-based pediatrician with over 30 years of experience, said that the iron content of crickets “may be 180% higher than that of beef fat.” 

Crickets have the potential to be a “regular part of American diet” for two reasons, she said in comments to Fox News Digital: One is “nutrition” — and second, they’re “environmentally advantageous.”

There are also budgetary benefits to eating bugs, food writer Leigh said.

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“My initial grocery bill was $250-300 Canadian dollars [a] week,” she noted. 

“After incorporating bugs into mealtimes, I was able to get my costs down to $150-200 Canadian dollars [a] week.”

bag of crickets as food

Above, a bag of crickets. (Tiffany Leigh)

New research suggests that society will start rethinking dietary options when people consider “the number of benefits insects bring,” according to Studyfinds.com.

A team in Spain said that edible insects are a “sustainable source of protein with less of a carbon footprint than beef,” that site notes. 

The survey found that “58% of respondents agree bugs could become a legitimate meat alternative in the future.”

“Pesticides, toxic metals and dioxins are some chemicals that are of concern with insect consumption.”

The site adds, “Eating insects may seem like a taboo in the Western world, but it’s also been a unique delicacy for a good part of human history.”

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The World Health Organization recommends the consumption of bugs for environmental reasons, among other reasons — comparing it to the raising of beef.

“Insect rearing is less expensive than conventional farming in terms of CO2, water, surface area and raw materials,” the WHO’s website says. 

Tiffany Leigh baby eats crickets for nutrition

Tiffany Leigh’s baby daughter has crickets as a part of her diet, enjoying them blended in oatmeal, pancake batter and pasta sauce, her mom says. (Tiffany Leigh)

“Moreover, raising insects allows a reduction of almost 99% in pollution compared to other forms of animal farming, with 80 times less methane emissions than beef,” the site also says.  

Michigan State University’s website notes there are some food safety concerns regarding the consumption of bugs, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“There is a potential to develop serious allergic reactions to edible insects,” the FAO says, according to the MSU site. 

“For example, people who suffer from seafood allergies should avoid edible insects.”

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Additionally, many different kinds of bacteria have been found in insects, “including E. coli and Campylobacter,” says the FAO.

“In addition to these bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi are also possible forms of biological contamination,” it also notes.

meg meeker

Above, Michigan-based pediatrician Meg Meeker. She notes the vitamin value of crickets but advises caution about adding them to a child’s diet. (Meg Meeker)

There are also chemical concerns around eating bugs. 

Because many insects are eaten whole, they are especially vulnerable to chemical contamination,” says the FAO. 

“When it comes to adding substance to the diet of children, the motive must be only for the health of the child.”

“Pesticides, toxic metals and dioxins are some chemicals that are of concern with insect consumption,” it adds.

eating a cricket

Eating bugs may present a possible choking hazard “due to their hard parts, which include stingers, wings, rostrum (sharp mouthparts) and spines.” (iStock)

Lastly, bugs present a possible choking hazard, “due to their hard parts, which include stingers, wings, rostrum (sharp mouthparts) and spines.”

The FAO adds, “In the United States, insect regulation as it relates to food is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

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It also notes, “Presently, the FDA treats insects as filth or defects in food.”

Fox News reached out to the FDA for comment.

split of Tiffany Leigh and baby and crickets

Above left, a pile of crickets. Above right, Tiffany Leigh and her baby daughter, who eats crickets as a part of her diet. (iStock/Tiffany Leigh)

Pediatrician Meg Meeker offered this caution: “Could promotion of use as crickets in American diet be driven more by environmental and financial issues than by nutritional?”

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She continued, “If so, this is not OK. When it comes to adding substance to the diet of children, the motive must be only for the health of the child.”

Meeker added, “Studies have not been adequately completed on their benefits versus risk. There are simply too many unknowns when it comes to using inadequately tested food in children.”

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Dr. Meeker also said, “For me, I won’t be recommending consumption of crickets to my patients now because, while we know that there are benefits to eating crickets, there are simply too many unsolved hazards that come along with them.”

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