INSECTS ARE THE FOOD FUTURE?
Each year, around 70 million people are added to the world’s population. If growth continues at this rate, by 2050 the population is expected to reach a whopping 9 billion. To feed all of those hungry mouths, we will need to produce almost twice as much food as we currently do. But that is going to be no mean feat—we already use 70% of agricultural land to raise livestock, oceans are overfished, environments are becoming polluted and climate change and disease threaten crop production. With almost 1 billion people already chronically hungry, it’s evident we need to buck up our ideas in order to reduce food waste and make food production more efficient. One possible solution? Insects.You might turn your nose up at the idea, but entomophagy (the consumption of insects) is a common practice that’s been taking place for tens of thousands of years. Around 2 billion people regularly eat insects as part of their diet, and over 1,900 species are edible. The most commonly eaten bugs are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants.The UN Food and Agriculture Organization recently produced an in-depth report about edible insects which is worth checking out if you’re interested in the subject.
WILL WE ALL BE EATING INSECTS NEXT YEARS?
Consuming insects as opposed to livestock is more environmentally friendly. Insects are cold-blooded and thus require less energy to maintain their internal body temperature. This means they are very efficient at converting feed into edible body mass, unlike cattle. Crickets require around 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat, and around 80% is edible. Cattle, on the other hand, require 8 kg to produce the same amount of meat, but only 40% of the cow can be consumed. This means that less land needs to be dedicated to growing feed for insects than for livestock, reducing irrigation and pesticide use. Furthermore, the insects could even be used as livestock feed, for example replacing fishmeal. This would have the added advantage of increasing fish supplies available for humans to eat.Insects also require significantly less land and water than traditionally farmed animals and also reproduce much more quickly. They also have shorter life spans and thus can be grown quickly and farmed in large quantities in small areas.Additionally, insects produce a fraction of greenhouse gases such as methane and ammonia when compared with other livestock, particularly cattle. Furthermore, they can consume animal waste or plants that people and livestock cannot. This means that they don’t compete with the human food supply and can even help reduce environmental contamination. It’s also thought that insects are less likely to transmit zoonotic infections to humans when compared with mammals and birds.
1. iflscience.com/environment/will-we-all-be-eating-insects-50-years 2. super.abril.com.br/saude/por-que-voce-deve-comecar-a-comer-insetos/ 3. bbc.com/future/story/20141014-time-to-put-bugs-on-the-menu