Eating Insects to Save the World

I read an interesting article today on how eating insects may save the world. The rationale: eating insects are not only nutritious (high in protein and fat), but would also help to save the Earth’s resources as the human population continues to expand.

According to Aaron T. Dossey, a biochemist, entomologist, and founder and owner of All Things Bugs, humans consume ~40% of potential terrestrial productivity and livestock currently takes up ~30% of the Earth’s land (pasture and growing feed). With the growing population of humans, food consumption will necessarily increase. He sees insects as the solution to that problem as they can be produced in a more sustainable way than cattle, since they literally, and figuratively, have a smaller ecological footprint. Because they are cold-blooded, they are able to convert feed into weight gain more efficiently than cattle since they are not using the energy for thermoregulation. Bug consumption would also reduce the utilization of water for irrigation and land for growing livestock feed. Since insects can eat foods that are not edible for humans (unlike cattle that eat grain and corn), they are not competing with humans for food. In addition, insects are abundant. In fact, Dossey mentioned that the UN estimates the current list of edible insect species on the menu in many parts of the world is currently ~1,400. According to Dossey, a goal of the UN is to increase the consumption of edible insects to help fight hunger and lower child mortality rates.

Chocolate-covered ants, anyone?

Source:
The Scientist

Comments

  1. #1 jane
    February 28, 2013

    Grasshoppers stir-fried with chili oil are yummy. Of course, I guess packing peanuts stir-fried with chili oil would be too.

  2. #2 Dunc
    February 28, 2013

    You know you’re in population overshoot when you find yourself eating your way down the trophic pyramid…

  3. #3 G
    March 8, 2013

    “Let them eat bugs.”

    Dunc is right: key sign of population overshoot. Every time you see language such as “as world population grows…” remind yourself of the Big Unspoken Thing: those of us who reproduce & consume less already, will be forced to bear the brunt of the impacts of those who multiply like mice and consume like locusts, while the oligarchs and aristocrats keep on tootling along as if nothing at all has changed.

    Let’s be blunt about this: the purpose of all the talk about eating bugs, isn’t to save the world. That we could do simply by converting our coal-fired electric baseload production over to thorium + renewables, and by encouraging family planning and less consumptive lifestyles (e.g. the average cellphone is in service for 18 months and ends up in a landfill, compared to rotary dial phones which had an average service life of 40 years and can be reconditioned to new-equivalent and easily last another two 40-year cycles).

    The purpose of all the talk about “eating bugs” is to make people submit. Not just submit to eating bugs, but _submit_ in general.

    Humans have four categories with regard to eating: Food, Not-Food, Dirt, and Cannibalism. “Food” is stuff you willingly eat. “Not-Food” is stuff you wouldn’t think of eating but doesn’t gross you out, for example a piece of paper.

    “Dirt” is stuff that grosses you out: like drinking “reclaimed” sewage, or pork for Jews & Muslims, or bugs for most Westerners. Being forced to eat dirt is one of the ultimate indignities, something that triggers an involuntary puke-reflex, and a violation of one’s body at the same level of imposed revulsion as being coerced into having sex with someone who you find revolting. It’s another example of the economic “shock and awe” treatment. And much like “legalized torture,” once you get people to accept _that_, they’ll accept _anything slightly less outrageous than that_ as well.

    “Cannibalism” is stuff that violates a core human instinct against eating one’s fellow persons. For most Westerners, dog and cat fall into this category. For Hindus, cow falls into this category. Dogs, cats, and cows, are regarded as “family” or “reincarnated family,” respectively. Horse works similarly for Americans and Britons: we regard horses as quasi-pets, therefore quasi-persons; and thus the present horsemeat scandal, whilst horse is regarded as a delicacy in Paris.

    The fact that these examples, along with those under Dirt, are largely culturally determined, does not reduce their significance any more than occurs with culturally-determined aspects of sexuality.

    The bottom line is this: the move to convince us to eat bugs, is at root an attempt to infringe upon cultural values that are so deeply ingrained that they are roughly comparable to instinct.

    Do not fall for it. You can be damn sure that the .00001% won’t be eating bugs, except for an occasional chocolate-covered ant to appear “modern.” This whilst the masses are being fed baked cockroaches and gelatinous caterpillars, and perhaps crispy fried flies, and being made to “like it.”

    We can achieve sustainability without transgressing our human dignity, whether the issue is privacy, sexuality, or eating dirt

    Minus coal, plus thorium and renewables, plus family planning, plus lower consumption of high-tech goods, equals solution. Minus the oligarchy and aristocracy too, but that’s another topic for another day.