The raising of livestock consumes two-thirds of the planet's farmland, and is a major source of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, tons of edible, sustainable protein swarms all around us, free for the taking. In a new policy paper being considered by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis makes the sensible recommendation that the western world eat more insects.
Farming edible insects like mealworms and crickets would produce far less greenhouse gas -- 10 times less methane and 100 times less nitrous oxide -- than the large mammals we currently farm. Insects are metabolically much more efficient, which makes them far cheaper to feed and raise; and, since they're so biologically different from humans, they are less subject to contagious disease scares like mad cow. They are high in protein and calcium, and, with over 1,000 edible species, offer plenty of delicious variety.
In April, the FAO started a pilot locust-farming project in Laos, where entomophagy is not unheard of, but where it's been in decline under the cultural influence of the West. According to the Guardian, 15,000 household farmers already raise locusts in Thailand, and that expertise can be transferred elsewhere.
Introducing a bug-rich diet to the western world might be more of a challenge, although it's certainly not unheard of. A British author named Vincent Holt published an essay advocating it in 1885, along with a nice selection of menus -- moths on toast, anyone? -- in a pamphlet called Why Not Eat Insects?
Van Huis proposes a two-phase plan: first just farming insects to feed to more conventional livestock; and then gradually introducing them directly to the menu for humans. "We're looking at ways of grinding the meat into some sort of patty, which would be more recognizable to western palates," he says.
Yum, insect burgers! This is probably a good idea, but it will take at least a generation to take hold, I think. I know I won't be changing from my beef deliciousness for sometime.
I don't think so.....
No shit?? I had this idea YEARS ago... consider the locust swarms in africa that decimate 'crops' and leave people starving to death.... a few NETS to catch the little buggers would lessen their impact on crops, and AND provide an excellent source of protien....
And you beef lovers.... I hope you're happy with the state of the rivers in North America, not to mention the Gulf.... congrats, our fish is no longer fit to eat.
I have wondered why people [Americans at least] havn't become more acceptable of eating insects. Insects obviously have a lot of advantages over other forms of livestock as this article points out. I would bet that many people would like the taste of a well prepared platter of these little guys, especially if they didn't know what they were eating. Since it seems like the only reason this isn't caught on is because people think they are "gross," even though they have never tried it.
Taste and consistency is needed.
I think most I agree with neuenkir, I can comprehend they're nutritious but I don't think I can cope with the thought of trying to stomach them. I'd leave it for the next generation, of course a cross generational family dinner might be a struggle: Today's holiday menu, green bean casserole; 30 years from now green cricket casserole.
... Waiter! Waiter! Where are the flies for my soup!?
Want to learn how to cook bugs? Watch Girl Meets Bug, the online edible-insect cooking show!
I teach people how easy, tasty, and healthy eating insects can be, with simple, step-by-step instructions and info on the bugs chosen. My goal is to get every American eating bugs once a week by 2020!
By eating insects, and encouraging others to do the same, you can help popularize a concept which, if adopted, could: help solve world hunger within a decade; help cut down on greenhouse emissions and water pollution; lessen pesticide use; and increase personal nutrition (crickets, for instance, contain more calcium and iron than beef).
Eat a bug, save the world.
I just dont see bugs catching on over beef. Considering that most people I know wont even eat one if you PAID them. MY thoughts are F-ck this. Im sticking with beef.
Why not just eat vegetables... or just less meat.
I read somewhere recently that people already eat bugs,only they're called lobsters/crabs,which are basically giant insects.It is because shellfish remind me of insects that I never developed a taste for them.I agree with gorash-eat veggies instead of meat!
Daniella, I watched your two vids on youtube and I must say, its very interesting. Im not saying I would eat it, but its cool to see how you do it. And, you are very beautiful btw. Are there any more webisodes in the near future?
The grasshoppers are actually pretty good, fry then in oil and garlic and they have a taste a bit like popcorn. I ate some in Japan and Thailand, not bad once you get over the yuk factor.
"Humanity Needs to Start Farming Bugs for Food, Says United Nations Policy Paper"
"Humanity" needs to quit having so many kids, but that isn't going to happen.
Hey Setarip -- thanks! And yes, stay tuned for more: my upcoming episode teaches you how to make cricket flour.
As for veggies vs meat, in some areas, the land is too arid or inhospitable to grow large amounts of crops, whereas insects can be farmed in small containers with very little water (check out the Food Factory Foundation and Small Stock Foods). It is for this reason that they are currently being researched as a space food. Also, we must consider the vast numbers of insects that are destroyed daily through pesticide usage; if we could create a market for the pests themselves, mightn't the switch to organic farming be faster?
I don't think the question is of switching from beef to bugs, but rather to expand our diets to include them. This way, the idea could also become more 'palatable' to world health organizations. Remember, 80% of the world eats insects, and not just as a last-ditch means of survival. The only reason we don't eat them is because of cultural bias. I say, why not break out of the matrix, and become part of this inherently logical movement! And P.S., did you know the FDA already allows quite a lot of bug matter to be present in all processed food? I'm talking coffee, cereal, etc. You're already doing it, so why not make it consensual? :)
Plus, I'm tellin' ya, a lot of the edible insects are darn tasty. I don't mean "tasty for a bug," I mean TASTY. Like chanterelle mushrooms crossed with pine nuts. Or extra-light French Fries.
@ gorash: If bugs come full circle into the US market, that will sure as hell be the case for those who can't stomach bugs! Genius! Blackmailing America's stomach with bugs so that vegetables become the new Big Mac. :D
lnwolf41 Sorry I'm a comfirmed meat eater. Not that I wouldn't give a bug a try, but if buggs are so great and nutritious why are we shipping our grain to africa and india to feed their starving people, why aren't they all big healthy people eatting buggs?
As for organic farming its good for feeding a small number of people, but it won't produce the yield you need to feed hundereds of millions of people.
I agree with onlyhuman the only real solution to production and waste is reduction of cause. The cause is overpopulation of a species. No one likes to hear that but it is fact.
Think about it from this perspective. OK we start eating bugs driving whatever that doesn't directly consume in view things. (note that if people can't see it it doesn't exist. So they think electric will replace well, but it consumes fuel too.) Anyway so we reduce consumption and waste, but don't stop growth. Well when growth catches up with the little that we could actually save we are back and square one with more problem over all.
Fortunately humans like all animals on this planet will succumb to mother nature at some point. When any species gets out of control the governing factors are supply and demand. For the fox it is the hair for the hair it is the shrub and so on down the line. When there is a lot of rain there is more food for the rabbit and so on up the line. Conversely when there is little rain there is less food for the rabbit for the fox, thus the fox dies off. At some point if we don't manage ourselves nature will stop the nurture and instead of being so cruel as to tell people they can't keep reproducing like they have in all of history nature will starve us to death until balance is found.
So ask yourself slow or reverse population growth, or watch yourself and/or loved ones slowly die to starvation. Think those starving kid commercials you turn off. Well if we don't control population growth then that will be all of us. The unfortunate part of it is this: when humans reach that point they will have grazed the world to the point that it can no longer recover.
I know this seems cruel to bring to the table like this, but it is infact how the food chain works. The sooner all of society realizes this the better off we will be. Under this light though the west is not necessarily the issue we are at or near our balance point here. However countries like China and India would need to have some form of external control to stop or curb growth for around two generations maybe three if I guess correctly. Go ahead look it up 1/3 of the worlds population is in two countries. I am sorry, but I should not have to give up my steak because people can't keep it in there pants or wear a condom. If they are starving elsewhere it is because their government/culture allows it, and does not regulate growth to a reasonable level. Admittedly though if we done put reins on in other countries soon they will be no better.
Actually it is not the Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis, but the Dutch entomologist Arnold van Huis. He is professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
There's also the question of childhood nutrition-- bug salad or Bug Soy burgers may be sufficient for adult nutrition-- but for a growing child?
Okay. . .NO-ONE is gonna touch THAT Study in the Western World. But consider that in East Asia and parts of Africa where insects are already part of the. . .'food choices'. Why haven't they gone whole hog and basically farmed termites, let's say?
I would say that any culture that depends on insect life as a major part of their food supply is actually a Subsistence Culture that it already close to the edge of starvation.
Asia has its share of historical stories of horrible starvation wherefore perhaps they had to overcome any past cultural aversion to insects as food in order to survive. And let's not forget their inclusion of what we think of as household pets as an alternative meat.
I mean we've all heard a version of "They'll eat ANYTHING". It was probably a result of dire necessity. And when food became abundant again, they went right back to the Cow, the Pig and the Bird.
No thanks. . .Enviro-nuts. If I want something that tastes like nuts-- Nature has already provided. Just because some people who've never cooked a real meal for a family in their life is bored enough to Try Anything so long as it's fried or sprinkled with chocolate. . .I'll believe you when you eat your own roaches. And you don't need to truck them in or buy them at Whole Foods. I bet they have a nutty smell when roasted.
"I agree with onlyhuman the only real solution to production and waste is reduction of cause. The cause is overpopulation of a species. No one likes to hear that but it is fact."
World birth rates have been declining consistantly for atleast fifty years.
As quickly as birth rates decline, death rates are also declining. If peoplke are going to live longer and longer, there isn't much we can do about an expanding population outside of world-wide abstinence or a "Logan's Run"-like capped lifespan...
You can fry anything in oil and it will taste good. Count me in.
Thank you for the information, I never thought about the death rate.
Also thank you for not calling me an idiot for not knowing what you know. I get so tired of reading posts from intolerant opinionated people who try to feel better about themselves by belittling everyone else who don’t agree with them. I'm glad to find someone who doesn't do that.
McBugBurger not in the too far future.
Processed meat is already generic (so much so that tofu dogs and Boca burgers are barely different from real meat). I suspect that if you don't scream about the protein source, it will go down easier, so to speak...
Wow, now that is downright scary dude. Seriously.
yummy, chocolate-covered ants!
Rejected, next idea please.
Who really thinks it is economically productive to put 1,000 lbs of grain into making 5 lbs of meat? Do people really need to eat 4 hamburgers a week? I mean seriously America, quit stuffing your greedy, obese, spoiled faces with cow and pig meat and eat a friggin' carrot for once. Because of people like you who need their "beef deliciousness" (looking at you, neuenkir and Setarip) these silly, desperate articles about eating bugs are written. But that's ok, I suppose it's a form of natural selection when people like you die of heart disease and colon cancer. Keep eating up all that cow meat, and leave the better food for the rest of us!
I think the United States should stop trying to act like a big brother to the world. Lets keep all our foreign aid to help the people here, lets stop giving grain shipments to Third-World Countries in Africa.I see hundreds of homeless in the city shelters where I volunteer. Who knows, maybe if we stop sending aid to half the world that will help reduce the population a little more, then again they are doing a find job on their own.
I think any gross reactions went out the window the second humanity started eating pigs. What could be worse than a pig?
Even a grasshopper would be healthier