Are Insects Set to Replace the Cow as a Food Source?


You may have seen a documentary, read an article, or found information on social media regarding the growing problem with world food production. When you consider the detriment to our environment and the food source itself, it is perhaps time to consider what the future holds for the globe’s nutrition. It is estimated that 35 years from now the world population will surpass 9 billion people. Land that is used for farming is shrinking and our natural water habitats no longer sustain the wildlife they once did.

Much of the agricultural land used for food production is polluted with animal waste, synthetic fertilizer, and other chemicals in an effort to increase yield and growth rate of our food. Large industrial farms are becoming the norm. Many livestock farms can have hundreds of thousands of animals in one area. Take cows as a measure of the production of waste: The average dairy cow produces over 100 lbs of manure every day. That would be the equivalent waste of 30 humans. There are approximately 9 million dairy cows in the US, which means those cows produce enough waste to equal that of 270 million people.

The water is also affected by the runoff from agricultural facilities. This has even further-reaching effects for our drinking water and aquatic wildlife. The air is also laced with toxins due to these factory farms. High concentrations of bacteria are found around these facilities and have been linked to respiratory and heart health concerns. While it is commonly believed that cars are responsible for the lion’s share of air pollution and greenhouse gases, when you compare automobile pollution to that of animal agriculture, you will find that more than half of greenhouse gases come from animals.

And as a result, chemicals, fertilizer, and waste can be found in nearly every level of the food chain. It is clear that something has to give as we look 10, 20, and 30 years into the future.

Proposed Solution for More Eco-Friendly Food: Insects

Yum, right? Those creepy crawlers that most of us wouldn’t miss at all if we never saw one again may actually be the key to our food problem. Insects happen to be incredibly nutritious – and even considered delicious depending on the country you live in. According to a United Nations report, insects should be considered a staple of the human diet and a source for animal feed.

The Food and Agriculture Organization seems to believe that using insects as a part of our diet could point us in the right direction for a more sustainable food chain.

Not Such a Crazy Idea

As you probably already know, insects are cold-blooded. This means they are wildly more efficient in converting food into edible mass. For example, the common grasshopper requires 1/12th the amount of food to create a pound of edible yumminess when compared to a cow. They also produce far less air, land, and water pollution as they can be fed using waste streams and other recycled organic material. That bug in your garage could be future livestock!

But let’s assume you are not convinced given the more sustainable improvements to much of the world’s food production. Perhaps you instead will relish in the nutrition of insects as a food source. They tend to be very rich in protein, calcium, and other minerals when compared to more traditional food sources. Insects also are full of what we always seem to call the “good” fats. Most insects can be made into food without the need for much infrastructure or investment which makes them an ideal solution for nearly any economic condition.

Try not to forget that in many countries insects are already a staple of the diet, it may just be a matter of time before we find a taste for it!


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