With insects being a lot more nutritious, environmental friendly and abundant than most other foods found on our planet, eating them actually makes a lot of sense. In large parts of the world, insects have been on the menu for generations from Ancient Greece to Old Testament Biblical times. The health benefits of eating insects together with other factors such as food security for our growing population make these little creatures the perfect companion to our daily food intake.
Protein is an essential nutrient for human survival. It’s the basic building block of every part of our body. We count on protein to grow and repair our muscles, bones and skin. If protein gets paired with iron they form hemoglobin, needed to move oxygen to blood cells. So the best use of the earth’s land, water, and other resources is the production of food that provides these nutrients. It happens to be that edible insects like beetles, crickets, ants and mealworms are packed with these proteins that we so desperately need.
As human beings we have been getting proteins from eating meat. Beef is generally considered an excellent source of protein and other valuable nutrients. But in fact, 100 grams of beef yields around the same amount of protein as crickets. In 2013, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations proposed that insects are the food of the future. They require much less to grow than meat, yet are high in nutrients. They also contain more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.
When it comes to farming insects the benefits keep adding up. The 3 main ones being that they require less land, less feed and water, plus have a much lower environmental impact. The UN predicts that the amount of world population living in urban environments will rise to a whopping 68% by 2050. On top of that, a rapidly expanding population is straining the earths resources. Therefore, the rising trend of urban agriculture and growing local produce dovetails nicely with farming insects which can be raised in warehouses leaving a very low footprint. This could help us secure food resources for generations to come.Let’s take a closer look at crickets as an example. To produce 1kg of protein, crickets require 13 times less arable land (arable land is land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops) and feed than cows. The amount of water crickets require to other conventional livestock animals is so trivial it’s almost impossible to compare. They consume up to 2000x less water. This would mean that a family of four eating food made with crickets just once a week for a year would save 650,000 litres of water. On top of this all, crickets grow 12x faster, allowing for exponential growth in production cycles.
Farming insects has a multitude of benefits. From making you healthier to lowering the strains we put on our land and resources. Livestock production produces a lot of methane gas. Methane is considered to be a major contributor to global warming and 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. A single hectare of land could produce 150 tons of insect protein per year. With methane gas production being 80x lower that traditional cattle, this could have a major impact on global warming.
The only factor where insects are equal to other animals is the need for energy. Farming insects requires the same average amount of energy compared to livestock. This is due to the fact that insects are cold-blooded animals. To be able to cultivate them in colder regions like Europe, a lot of energy is used for heating and humidifying indoor insect farms.