Insects. They’re creepy. They’re crawly. Everybody hates them. Would you eat one?
Odds are, your response to that question would be something like, “I would not eat them in a boat. I would not eat them with a goat. I would not eat them in a car. I would not eat them near or far. I will not try a bug, you see. I will not try them, fiddle-dee-dee!”
Those might not be your exact words, but it’s most likely a no. It’s understandable since, especially in the United States, we have access to such delicious protein sources like steak, bacon, chicken, bacon, fish, and, who could forget, bacon!
Unfortunately our ability to eat these succulent meats is going to get harder and harder.
In 2011 the Earth’s population hit 7 billion people. Today we’re over 7.2 billion. Our population on this little blue marble is growing at an exponential rate, and we’re already, as a global community, having trouble feeding everybody. Cost-effective carbohydrates, like rice, are already produced on a mass scale, but current animal protein sources have not proven to be as plentiful. That’s where the pests come in.
Dutch etymologist, Marcel Dicke delivered a TED Talk on the issue, and presented some interesting statistics on the matter:
– In the developed world on average [we eat] 80 kilograms [of animal protein] per person per year, which goes up to 120 in the United States… In the developing world it’s much lower. It’s 25 kilograms per person per year.
– You take 10 kilograms of feed, you can get one kilogram of beef, but you can get nine kilograms of locust meat.
– One kilogram of grasshoppers has the same amount of calories as 10 hot dogs, or six Big Macs.
So our six legged nemeses not only are nine times more efficient to produce than that rib eye steak, they are also healthy to boot! Why on Earth are we not doing this? The simple answer: perception. Nobody wants to eat vermin.
The people over at The Sustainable Restaurant Association are trying to change that perception. As chefs look towards the future, they are adding more and more insects to their menu. Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca, states, “Insects are very sustainable. They have as much protein per gram as chicken or beef yet without the environmental impact. For me, an insect is just like eating a mollusc. I’ve been eating them in Mexico for 20 years.” There is a push to be edgy and interesting, and insects are pushing the movement.
The newer generations are going to be the ones that live in this bug-fed world of the future, so it’s to them that we propose this challenge. The up-and-coming youth today have proven to be one of the most open-minded groups in years. They are driven by new experiences, they have embraced the advent of the Internet, and under their watch diversity has been celebrated, beginning the eradication of racism and homophobia. So in the spirit of this openness, just try one little bite. Please? For mother Earth? It might taste like chicken.
Be sure to watch the full TED talk here. Afterwards, ask yourself would you eat a bug? Can you think of a better way to feed the earth? Find a place locally that sells insects. Maybe it will have you say, “I do like them, Sam-I-Am!”
Rich Williams is a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and aspiring Renaissance man. A crusader against meaningless existence, he has dedicated himself to living life as a self-actualizing free spirit. As a twenty-something, he endeavors to enter adulthood while keeping the joy and vigor of youth alive. He lives in Tampa, FL, and is accepting new clients. Connect with Rich on Twitter and LinkedIn.