Scientists are jumping on an underutilized protein source that is abundant and environmentally friendly.
Sounds great — until you realize that what the scientists from National Autonomous University of Mexico are suggesting is dining on insects.
Entomophagy, or eating bugs, is already a common practice in over 13 countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, according to this week's Economist.
And what better then bugs? Gram for gram, bugs provide more nutrients than beef or fish.
And while the Food and Agriculture Organization at the United Nations considers livestock “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global,” bug farming is a low-impact process.
Khon Kaen University in Thailand has already developed an inexpensive cricket-rearing technique and taught it to 4,500 families. On just a 100 square feet of land, a family can raise enough crickets to make a tidy profit. Or they can even be “grown” inside homes. Because bugs are a crop that doesn’t require much food or water, grows and reproduces quickly, the yield can be incredible.
The Mexican university researchers themselves cite numerous reasons for insect eating: the 75 percent rise in some food prices, the additional 100 million people pushed into poverty, and global warming as reasons to shift to these more sustainable sources of protein.
Of course, there are perils to introducing new species of insects to areas. And there are those who just plain won’t eat bugs.
A more palatable option suggested by the Economist might be to replace supplements in processed food or animal feed with insect-derived protein, which would still help make carnivorous habits a little more sustainable.