Edible Insects: Eat Bugs, Save The World

How can eating insects help save the Earth?

As you may know, the livestock sector is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, rivaling even automobiles. In fact, eliminating even one hamburger a week from your diet can significantly reduce your personal carbon footprint. And what better way to replace it than with a plate of tasty insects?

Insects are the true “Eco-protein” — the most environmentally-efficient animal protein on the planet. This is because many food-insects, such as crickets, convert food and water much more efficiently into usable nutrition than cattle or other livestock. For instance, insects require up to 20 times less food than cattle, meaning that per pound of food they are given, they produce several times the amount of protein. Also, up to 100 times less water is required per pound of usable protein. As David Gracer of SmallStockFoods puts it, “Insects can feed the world. Cows and pigs are the S.U.V.’s; bugs are the bicycles.”

Also, by more effectively utilizing the insects on our crops, we could reduce the amount of pesticides in our environment. What if organic were the norm?

Think this sounds weird? It is, in fact, not weird at all. 80% of the world’s cultures include insects in their diet — meaning the U.S. is in the minority here. That’s right, we’re the weird ones, turning up our noses at perfectly good nutrition that has sufficed for humans for thousands of years. That is, when we are aware of it. The FDA allows for a significant amount of insect matter to be present in most commercial foods: an average of 150 or more insect fragments are allowed per 100 grams of wheat flour, for instance. That’s a lot of bug!

So basically, despite our cultural bias against it, most of us are already doing it on a daily basis. I’m saying, why not make it consensual? Choose your bugs, prepare them the way you like them. Find a farm where they feed them well, on green leaves, bran, and honey. Remember that these creatures, on whom our very lives are completely dependent, can be raised cleaner, healthier, and with less cruelty than nearly any mammal or fish. As Jonas Salk (inventor of the Polio vaccine) said, “If all the insects on earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on earth would disappear. If all humans disappeared, within 50 years all species would flourish as never before.”

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