Before we get in to the wordy details of why you should be eating insects, we would like to offer you the chance to watch our favorite video on the topic from the guys at AsapScience:
In addition to the availability of food becoming a growing concern, there are some seriously problematic impacts that current farming practices have on the environment. In 2006, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow,’ a report that documents the incredibly destructive results of current livestock production:
Livestock production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 33% of the arable land surface of the planet. And expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation. 70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feed crops cover a large part of the remainder. So expanding livestock production to solve the impending food shortage really isn’t a viable option.
What about keeping production at current levels? Besides running out of food, we'll be continuing methods that are harming our planet. It is estimated that the livestock sector currently is responsible for more than 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is a higher share than the transport sector. The livestock sector is the largest source of water pollution, mainly from animal waste, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops. As for Biodiversity, the livestock sector is the biggest contributor to it’s decimation. So, no, we can't expand production to feed everyone and, in fact, we need to make drastic changes to our current system if we want to preserve our planet at all.
In addition to the growing population and environmental concerns, the affordability of meat is becoming a growing issue. The rapidly rising middle class in developing countries, especially China and India, are demanding more of a Western diet, which means more meat. And, because we can’t produce more meat to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand, this means that prices are rising, and will continue to do so.
THE BIG QUESTION (AND ANSWER)
So, how do we create an alternative source of protein to fuel our bodies, that will have the ability to keep up with the growing demand for food, sustain the health of the planet AND serve as an affordable and delicious nutrient? The answer is insects. Specifically, crickets.
Let's face it, the thought of eating bugs is less than appealing to most people. However, crickets have a growing acceptance and have been termed "the gateway bug" since they are successfully luring Westerners into the world of entomophagy (eating insects). In fact, a recent Belgian study found that after people, aged 26-45, ate crickets for the first time, 92% of them said they would eat them again. They've been described as tasting somewhat nutty, actually.
- Water Usage
- Water is the most precious resource on the planet.
- As a result of over-use and abuse, we are running out of drinkable water worldwide.
- Climate change is only going to exacerbate this problem.
- Approximately 25% of all freshwater used every year is for livestock production.
As you can tell from the chart above, the amount of water used in livestock production is astonishing. And water use isn't a problem that we will face in the future, it is a problem that we are facing today, just ask anyone from California.
- Feed Efficiency
- 70% of all agricultural land is used to raise livestock or grow the crops that are fed to livestock.
- In the US, 67% of the calories produced per acre are fed to animals.
- It is impossible to talk about the future without bringing up climate change.
- The livestock sector contributes more to global warming than the entire transport sector.
- The average american eats 62 pounds of beef a year, which equates to over 21,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. For perspective, the average carbon dioxide emissions of your (average) car each year is less than half that (10,300 pounds).
- The nutritional content of crickets is very much defined by their diet, but overall it is accepted that they have twice as much protein and more magnesium than beef, more iron than spinach, as much B-12 as salmon, all nine essential amino acids, and they are low in fat. Crickets are a legitimate super food.
Other Benefits of Crickets
- They can be reared on organic side streams, reducing environmental contamination, while adding value to waste.
- They have few animal welfare issues, although the extent to which insects experience pain is largely unknown.
- They pose a low risk of transmitting zoonotic infections.
- Insects already form a traditional part of many regional and national diets.
- Insect rearing is not necessarily a land-based activity and does not require land clearing to expand production. Feed is the major requirement of land.
- There are over 1900 types of edible insects documented in literature
- Currently over 2 billion people knowingly already eat insects.