Slimy Yet Satisfying: How Eating Bugs Might Save the World

“Slimy... yet satisfying!”

In recent years the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that livestock is responsible for upwards of 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, primarily methanethat stinky killer released through burps and toots that is 23 times more effective in the atmosphere than the better known Carbon-Dioxide. But what if there were smaller alternatives to traditionally farmed livestock with not only significantly smaller greenhouse gas outputs, but also much more efficient in converting feed into an edible product? Turns out there are, in bugs, and people outside the western culinary sphere have been eating them for thousands of years. 

While some insects, such as termites also produce methane, (releasing 4 percent of all emissions of this gas worldwide, so don’t feel bad about calling the exterminator) common edible insects such as meal-worms and locusts produce significantly less greenhouse gas per kilogram of product than cows or pigs and less or near that of poultry. Beyond emission levels, land and energy use should be taken into account. Insects, being cold blooded are also much more efficient in feed to product conversion. A mere 4.6 pounds (2.1 kg) of feed is sufficient to produce 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of edible crickets, whereas 55 pounds (25 kg) of feed is needed to produce 2.2 pounds of beef.

Ok, but bugs are gross right? While this may be the cultural conception in the West (really just the United States), in reality bugs really aren't that gross. 

Still not convinced? Insects are not only more efficient and less likely to cause ingested illness, but also much higher in protein and lower in fat than other meats.

There are over 1.5 thousand edible species which don’t carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans (see this video). By contrast traditional livestock products of pork, beef and poultry all cause high rates of illness, largely because of the unclean environments they are raised and processed in, that all carry the possibility of death. 

Forget protein powders! Seriously consider munching on some grasshoppers before your next workout!

Are you intrigued? Check out our follow up slideshow about bug based grub working it’s way into the foodie world near you!

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