10 reasons why eating insects can save the world | GMOs, NBT & Sustainable agriculture | Scoop.it

Gates gives us 10 reasons why we should:

1. Insects could be the solution to world hunger. There are forty tons of insects to every human, that’s more than enough for an ongoing “all you can eat” insect buffet.

2. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation are taking this idea seriously. They are planning to hold a world congress on it.

3. They are naturally sustainable. Mealworms, for example, survive on waste wheat chaff rather than guzzling grain like our favourite meat sources.

Insects are tremendously efficient at converting vegetation such as leaves (much of which we can’t get any nutritional value from) into edible protein. The ratio of energy intake (usually in the form of grain) to protein output for beef is up to 54:1 compared to 4:1 an upwards for insects, and that grain is grown on land that could, theoretically, be used to grow more resource-efficient food for humans. As the world population heads towards nine billion by 2045, entomophagy could be a potential solution to some of the worlds food issues.

4. It is easy to farm them on a large scale without damaging the environment.

5. They provide unusual flavours and textures. In the documentary, Stefan Gates enthuses about the “lemony sourness” of red ants paired with the “creaminess of their eggs”.

There are some surprisingly delicious bugs around. Dry-fried Burmese bamboo grubs have an extraordinary enlivening sweetness similar to Jerusalem artichokes. Next best are Mexican chappulines (grasshoppers roasted with chilli, salt and lime), which make a fantastic sour-spicy snack to eat with a cold beer. Fat-bottomed ants are available in the UK as a gimmicky snack, but they pack a fantastic pungent taste similar to smokey bacon.

6. They are highly nutritious. Caterpillars, for example, provide more protein and more iron than the same quantity of minced beef. Most insects contain little fat, lots of protein and oodles of iron and calcium.

Insect protein is cheap to produce. Animal protein will become more expensive as it begins to better reflect the cost of production and the load it makes on the planet’s resources. Eventually we’ll see bug-burgers in the shops and you’ll buy them not because you prefer them, but because a bug-burger will cost less than a beef burger. They are likely to become the food of choice for spacemen.

7. Many other countries are already eating insects. Cambodians eat tarantulas, in Thailand they deep fried crickets. Insects already have a long and noble history as foods in many places around the world. You find that they are available in markets from Thailand to South Africa and across much of Central and South America. They command a high price in Mexico, where edible flies and ant eggs are highly prized.

8. There are over 1,000 varieties of insects edible to humans. Surely there’s something for everyone.

9. British Mexican restaurant Wahaca has already started experimenting. They are currently selling chilli-fried grasshoppers.

10. There is a distinct lack of emotional attachment – unless you were particularly taken with A Bug’s Life.

And the downsides? Well, some religions forbid the eating of some insects, with kosher rules being some of the most explicit (although Leviticus famously points out that locusts and grasshoppers are OK). In the UK, edible insects are calorie-neutral (it takes more energy to collect a bucket of bugs than you gain by eating them). In the future, though, we could farm them or offer poorer countries an income from exporting them.



Via Ana C. Day