If you suggest insects as food to your friend, probably he or she will first give you the disgusting look, then they will say ‘What, Oh My God insects!! Nooooo’. Why not insects, they are healthy, tasty, and more friendly to our planet. Eating insects or Entomophagy, can help the environment, the economy, you and me.
Recent studies by the United Nation , explained that there will be about 9.6 billion people living on this planet by 2050. Which means 2.4 more than current population. These 2.4 people will need resources to stay alive basically land, food, air, and water. Considering that all these resources are already under risk today, then you can imagine how difficult it will be for the next generation to survive. That’s why it is important to start considering seriously ALL possible solutions and alternatives, including changing our behaviors specially regarding food.
One of the most important systems that should be taken in consideration, is our current food system. Why? Simply because it’s destroying the planet. Let’s take water as an example, the statics of the United Nations Water, show that agriculture (including livestock) is responsible about 70% of water withdrawal, 20% industry, and 10% domestic.
This 70% used by agriculture might reach 90% by 2050. Accordingly, just 10% of fresh water will be for all remaining consumption. Moreover, did you know that we eat water, not just drink it. UN Water says that small slice of steak costs the planet 2025 liter of water, and one apple costs 70 liter, this is really shocking. Today you can choose between apple and beef, because there are still some available water for you to drink. However, by 2025 third of the world population will be living under water stress, and 1.8 million will actually be facing water scarcity, they will struggle to drink. If today we have the choice, by that time they will have to make a choice between ‘any food’ and water. So why do not we make it easier to them from today? Insects can really help.
Insects in contrast, definitely need less water, less feed, and even less energy, to give you more protein, more money, and more space. A study by Food and Agriculture organization about edible insects in 2013 presents some incredible facts about insects. Insects have high feed conversion; add value to waste while reducing environmental contamination; produce little green houses cases and little ammonia; require less water; do not transfer disease to human.
Can you believe it, 1 kilogram of protein from insects needs only 1 liter of water, do you remember how much was it for the apple or the steak?! Moreover, the FAO study includes that insects are even healthy, they are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc.
Insects are already consumed around the world as part of people’s traditional diet, the total estimated number of different kinds of consumed insects is about 1909 around the world, Mexico has almost 550 kind of edible insects, while Africa about 250 and china 170.
Insects are also consumed in some countries not included in FAO report, Yemen as an example. During the seasons, you can see people specially kids, collect the locusts and eat them. Most often they fry them, but sometimes they eat them alive based on their belief that locusts are good for their health. Locusts also become a source of income for some Yemenis during the seasons. One kilogram of locusts might be sold in market for 5$. Actually, insects are also a good source of income, many entrepreneurs in United States and Europe, have started their business selling insects as a food, hoping to change consumers’ behaviors.
Megan Miller, the founder of Bitty Food. during her inspirational talk in TEDx Manhatten said that crickets is the ‘Future of Food’. Megan introduced a different idea,rather than replacing meat by insects.
She actually, replaced flour by ‘crickets flour’, to make cookies and other products. In the same time, she makes money, considering that raisin insects costs less due to FAO study, means she is actually making more money than others who use normal flour. She sells a bag of 2 Oz (almost 70 gram) for 19.99$. Another example from Europe is Bugs in Mugs, in their menu you can see pasta with crickets’ cream, crickets’ burger and so many other food recipes based on insects.
Another great point about insects, same study by FAO shows that insects can be more efficient and cost effective when it is being used as animal feed.
They can reduce the final cost of food, comparing to the fish-meal and soybean meal, which are used now and represent 60%- 70% of production costs. Using insects as feed will lower food’s prices, and guess what chicken and fish already enjoy them.
I know you would argue that there are so many alternatives that we can do to save the planet, and overcome future’s challenges. Like, reducing global waste, improving lands soil, using new techniques, raising awareness. All are brilliant solutions. However, on the other hand, they are not enough, why? Let’s see, the growth in population will logically cause growth in urbanization, production, consumption, waste, pollution, and so on. Eventually, the demand will rise over the supply and people will suffer to eat and drink. Sustainability now became international goal within SDG to solve future problems. I agree, these solutions must be implemented, even today before tomorrow, but, they will take long time to be real. So, why don’t you help the future and introduce one, easy, tasty solution to your stomach today. If you do not like their look, it is ok. I believe you are not in love with crab’s legs, or shrimp’s eyes but you like their taste.
Just go ahead be the leader of ‘Future Food’!