accustomed to the Western world tend to consume livestock like cows and pigs as
a protein-rich meal source. But with the human population on the rise, it's
becoming more important to seek out new nutritional food sources that can
satisfy a large population without being as harmful, expensive, and hard to
raise as livestock. The solution? Insect meat.
Dicke and Arnold Van Huis, professors of entomology at Wageningen
University in the Netherlands, have already started promoting the
consumption of insects in the Netherlands. They started their work in the
1990's, and at that time, many citizens of the Netherlands laughed at the idea of eating bugs. But as time went
by, they became more accustomed to the idea, and in 2006, a "Wageningen -
City of Insects" science festival was created to encourage the consumption
of insects. Approximately 20,000 visitors attended the festival.
Dicke and Van Huis are making the argument for Westerners to jump on the
bug-eating bandwagon as well. It may not seem obvious, but insects are already
apart of our daily diet. In the United States, the average citizen consumes
approximately one pound of insects annually through foods such as chocolate (which
the FDA allows 60 insect fragments per 100 grams) and peanut butter (which the
FDA allows 30 insect fragments per 100 grams). Insects are mixed into other
foods as well, such as fruit juices.
though insects are already part of our diet to some degree, Dicke and Van Huis
see bug meat as being an alternative to meats such as beef and pork. Between
2020 and 2050, researchers predict that Westerners will consume insects
regularly as an answer to our increasing population needing more meat-related
resources. In fact, beef may become a luxury food item like caviar by
the human population was at six billion people. This number is expected to grow
to nine billion people by 2050, which means there will be greater need for meat
production. The problem is that livestock poses many problems as it is, and
increasing the amount of livestock will only make environmental and health
issues worse for humans.
livestock production would have several environmental consequences, such as
having to increase the amount of agricultural acreage "at the expense of
rain forests and other natural land." Pastures already use up 70 percent
of all agricultural land. Also, livestock produce greenhouse gas emissions like
ammonia per pound of body weight, resulting in at least 10 percent of all
greenhouse gas emissions. Insects, on the other hand, are comfortable in close
living conditions, which means that raising them would not require as much
space, and insects do not produce a large amount
of greenhouse gas emissions.
believe that eating bugs would be a worse alternative, since they are known for
being dirty and disease ridden, but according to researchers, less than 0.5
percent of all insects are harmful to humans and over 1,000 species have been
identified as edible. Besides, bugs raised for food are grown in hygienic
addition to environmental and health-related consequences, increasing livestock
production would be costly. According to The
Wall Street Journal, ten pounds of feed produces one pound of beef,
three pounds of pork, five pounds of chicken and as much as six pounds of
insect meat. Since insects are cold-blooded, they do not require as much food
as livestock, who need to eat more in order to keep a warm body temperature.
Not only does livestock require more food, but more water as well. It takes
about 10 gallons of water to produce two pounds of meat.
another problem with livestock is that it can be wasteful. After processing the
meat, 30 percent of pork, 35 percent of chicken, 45 percent of beef and 65
percent of lamb is inedible. Only 20 percent of a cricket is inedible after
some U.S. restaurants, such as the Mexican restaurant Toloache in New York,
serve an insect-related dish, more are expected to do the same throughout the
country, slowly replacing meat in sauces and meatballs as well as other foods
like quiche. Many who have had insects to eat describe the taste and texture as