Posted by: transcendingchaos | July 14, 2008

How to solve world hunger

According to researchers from the University of Mexico.

From The Economist:

Let them eat bugs
Jul 12th 2008

The world is getting hungrier. After years of falling food prices, eating is suddenly getting expensive. With price-tags now rising some 75%, the World Bank estimates that the soaring cost of food will push 100m people into poverty. What with rising fertiliser prices, increasing concerns about deforestation and unreliable rains brought on by climate change, how will we find new sources of nourishment?

Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico have an answer: entomophagy, or dining on insects. They claim the practice is common in some 113 countries. Better yet, bugs provide more nutrients than beef or fish, gram for gram.

Meat provides just under one fifth of the energy and one third of the protein humans consume. But its production uses up a hugely disproportionate share of agricultural resources. Feed crops gobble up some 70% of agricultural land, while a quarter of the world’s land is devoted to grazing. Brazil’s burgeoning livestock industry is responsible for huge swathes of deforestation in the Amazon.

As developing countries get richer meat’s ecological footprint is set to get even bigger. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 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.” It predicts that the world’s demand for meat will nearly double by 2050.

Eating insects does far less damage. For one thing, the habit could help to protect crops. Some 30 years ago the Thai government, struggling to contain a plague of locusts with pesticides, began encouraging its citizens to collect and eat the insects. Officials even distributed recipes for cooking them. Locusts were not commonly eaten at the time, but they have since become popular. Today some farmers plant corn just to attract them. Stir-frying other menaces could help reduce the use of pesticides.

Is eating insects the wave of the future? It’s an odd thought. I think the only time I’ve knowingly and willingly ingested an insect was after a visit to the Insectarium in Montreal. And it was in a lollipop.

Really, all it needs to take off is the approval of the hipsters. Once the hipsters are on board, it won’t be long before we see “insect bars” popping up in chic urban areas. It will be sushi and yoga and the reusable bag craze all over again.

Okay, that’s probably far too cynical of me. After all, I’m quite okay with the idea of eating insects as a viable alternative to meat, which has an incredibly large ecological footprint–okay with the idea. Maybe if it was cooked up in a stir fry and no one told me what I was actually eating. I think after eating it once or twice, I could become okay with it.

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Responses

  1. Hey there’s a restuarant ( multi-star ) in your area of Kits that serves bugs in bread. True story!

  2. Hmm… maybe we should check it out 🙂


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