What’s bugging you?

By 2050 the world’s population will have cracked the 9 Billion mark. This enormous increase will put even more stress on our already struggling world. The total consumption of agricultural products will see a plus of a staggering 70 percent according to the FAO, due to a rise in the standard of living and higher wages all around the globe. With our current methods it wouldn’t be possible to assure a steady and secure food supply in huge parts of our world. An essential part here is meat consumption. It is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and is very inefficient regarding resource management. For example, it takes more than 15 000 liters of water and anywhere between 5 to 7 kg of gran to produce only 1 kg of beef. Since our dependency on proteins hardly gives us the chance to cut back on meat, an alternative has to be found.

Since 2003 the FAO is working on topics pertaining to edible insects in many countries worldwide. Facts support that insects are a very reliable source of high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids. Furthermore they have a very high food conversion rate. For example, crickets need six times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of calories. According to the FAO insects are able to live on many different sources of nutrition, including organic waste. This means that a food supply system based on the implementation of insects would also be able tackle recycling problems. Due to this the FAO strongly encourages people to be opened minded and to follow after this approach.

While the FAOs claims are widely supported, there are also a lot of skeptical parties in the agricultural sector. In 2015 a scientific study was conducted to prove the widespread claims regarding insects and insect farming. In an experiment, researchers raised crickets on 5 different diets (corn, soy, grain, food waste, crop residue). The result was that it is very hard to find the right feed. The Insects that lived on food waste died very quickly and mostly weren’t big enough for harvest. Grain was the most successful variant, but even here the crickets only had a 35 percent protein conversion rate, which is only slightly better than chickens.

In Europe eating insects is something out of the ordinary. Even though more and more people are open to the idea of trying crickets for food, we are far from implementing such a diet into our society. For this to become reality a lot of requirements have to be met. Here an affordable supply is essential. Currently it is nearly impossible in Europe to get insects, which aren’t priced in the high-end sector. To establish such a supply there has to be enough demand, for the selling of insects to be lucrative.

In conclusion there is a lot of potential in an insect based diet, but the groundwork for such a development is far from laid out. In the agricultural sector many of the most influential actors are very indecisive, and therefore aren’t tackling the problem of feeding the world as a unit.

Quotes:
“I am so scared of this”
“I think it’s exciting”
“It’s no different than other meat”
“The small ones are okay but the big ones are a no-go”
“Not so bad”
“The eyes are terrible”
“Love it! Just a bit salty”

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