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Top Reasons Humans Will Eat Insects in the Future

The very idea may turn your stomach, but entomophagy, or the consumption of insects, is a very common practice worldwide that has been taking place for tens of thousands of years. Around 2 billion people today include insects as a part of their regular diet. There are more than 1,900 edible species of insect, but the most commonly eaten bugs are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants. And with 70 million people being added to the world’s population each year, we’re going to need to produce a lot more food! While our traditional food sources are pretty much tapped out, insects offer an easy to farm, environmentally friendly source of protein for people all over the world.

Insects Are Healthy

They might not seem like it, but insects are actually packed with nutrition. They have a high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and mineral content that is comparable to the nutritional value of fish or livestock. Crickets, for example, contain an average of 205 g/kg protein, while beef contains 256 g/kg. Termites, too, pack a protein punch—one Venezuelan species is 64% protein and have a pleasant, minty taste. Some insects even contain as much as 80% protein by weight. They are also rich in essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, which we often have trouble getting enough of in our diets as it is. Mealworms contain as much of these fatty acids as fish, which is even more than beef and pork. Insects can also deliver essential iron supplements, like locusts, which contain up to 20 mg/100g iron or mopane caterpillars, which contain an impressive 31 mg/100g, whereas a hearty steak only contains around 6 mg/100g.

Insect Farming is Sustainable

Consuming insects as opposed to livestock is better for the earth, as insect farming is one of the most sustainable farming methods in existence. Crickets require around 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat, and around 80% of that is edible. Cattle, however, require a whopping 8 kg to produce the same amount of meat, of which only 40% is edible. Less land and fewer resources need to be set aside for growing feed for insects than for livestock, which reduces irrigation and pesticide use. Even if human taste buds never catch on to the idea, insects could be farmed as a source of feed for cattle, replacing things like fishmeal, which would in turn leave more fish supplies for us to eat.

Insects are Better for the Environment

Insects produce a fraction of the greenhouse gases such as methane and ammonia that cattle do. They can also consume animal waste or plants that people and livestock cannot. What this means is that they don’t compete with the human food supply and can even help to reduce overall environmental contamination. Insect farms have far less of a negative impact on the environment than our traditional cattle farms do now.