Will Insects Save the Planet?

Grasshopper

We at Froodly we are very concerned with protecting our environment and its natural resources. For this reason, today we are writing about an alternative and sustainable food source: insects!

Crunchy grasshoppers, smoked termites, and many other bugs, not only are considered a delicacy in some areas of the world, but they are also a great sustainable alternative to animal proteins whose production has a huge impact on the environment.

According to the UN, by 2050 there will be over 9 billion people on the planet and the food production will have to increase by 70%. If the demand for animal proteins won’t stop increasing, then we will have to figure out how to produce enough meat for everyone without compromising the environment. In fact, the global livestock is an impressive polluter which produces “more greenhouse gases than planes, trains, and automobiles combined”.

In South America, Asia, and Africa, a total of at least two billion people are already eating insects and, according to a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are more than 1,900 edible insect species on earth. Sounds like you could have a pretty wide choice, doesn’t it?

Haven’t we convinced you yet about this alternative source of food? Are you feeling yucky? Well, surprisingly enough you might discover that eating bugs is not as terrible as you maybe think. Indeed, as a recent Danish documentary shows, contrary to the general belief insects can have a very pleasant taste!

Besides the taste, there are also many other reasons why we should start reconsider introducing bugs in our diets.

The benefits are many, and could be seen at environmental, health, and economical level. Let’s see them in detail:

Environmental benefits

  1. Insects are abundant: as we have just mentioned above, the edible species are almost 2.000;
  2. Insects are easy to farm on a large scale without damaging the environment: they require significantly less land and water than cattle breeding and they produce lower levels of green gases;
  3. Bugs can be raised on food waste and animal manure, thus not only they would increase the world’s supply of protein, but they would also reduce and recycle waste.

Health benefits

  1. Insects are cold-blooded and for this reason, they are very efficient at converting feed into protein: for example, according to FAO, crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein;
  2. Besides being rich in protein, insects contain good fats, calcium, iron and zinc.

Economical benefits

  1. Insects could be used to replace some of the expensive animal feed used to farm animals, thus lowering the cost of the livestock products;
  2. Farming and collecting insects could offer new opportunities of employment.

Caterpillars are popular in Africa, wasp larvae are considered a delicacy in Japan, and termites are widely eaten in South America. So, how does it come that insects are not popular in western countries? The answer to this question finds its roots in historical reasons: out if the 14 domesticated mammals breaded to provide meat for humans, 13 of them were found in Europe. Over the years, these animals yielded considerable amounts of meat, milk, leather, but also means of transportation and for this reason, the use of bugs failed to gain much traction in the west.

To overcome the yucky feeling that many people might have at the idea of eating a bug, some companies have launched interesting food products which disguise their insects content. One example is the American start-up Six Food, which produces chips made from beans, rice, oil and cricket flour. Yes, you have understood correctly, cricket flour, which according to many people who have tasted it adds a very nice nutty taste!

So, will really insects save the planet? What do you think?

Stay tuned, we will come up with more news about this topic!

Alice Moretti

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