The Future of Food
It's just not Cricket(s)
Insects as a food, or as it’s known in scientific circles entomophagy.
Insects are often considered a nuisance to human beings and mere pests for crops and animals. Yet this is far from the truth. Insects provide food at low environmental cost, contribute positively to livelihoods, and play a fundamental role in nature. However, these benefits are largely unknown to the public.
It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to farming is rarely a viable or sustainable option. Oceans are overfished and climate change and related water shortages could have profound implications for food production. To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today – there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide – and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated. Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food.
Overall, entomophagy can be promoted for three reasons:
• Health: - Insects are healthy, nutritious alternatives to mainstream staples such as chicken, pork, beef and even fish (from ocean catch). - Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc. - Insects already form a traditional part of many regional and national diets.
• Environmental: - Insects promoted as food emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than most livestock (methane, for instance, is produced by only a few insect groups, such as termites and cockroaches). - Insect rearing is not necessarily a land-based activity and does not require land clearing to expand production. As they are cold-blooded, insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein (crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein). - Insects can be fed on organic waste streams.
• Livelihoods (economic and social factors): - Insect harvesting/rearing is a low-tech, low-capital investment option that offers entry even to the poorest sections of society, such as women and the landless. – Mini livestock offer livelihood opportunities for both urban and rural people. - Insect rearing can be low-tech or very sophisticated, depending on the level of investment.
So before you scoff at the prospect of Beetle mania give it a try, you never know, you might think it’s the bees knees….