Last month we suggested a new treat for you to serve up at your Halloween or holiday party: edible insects! Okay, so the idea might still be a bit of a tough sell, but scientists and adventurous foodies are on board with making insects a more significant part of our diet. Turns out chocolate covered caterpillars and grasshopper tacos are not only an excellent source of protein, but an efficient and eco-friendly one, too. Plus, insects have been a delicacy in many cultures for thousands of years – we may be missing out on a great low-impact and sustainable food source by jumping straight to the "ick" factor!
For our latest Green Quiz Challenge, we tested your knowledge of entomophagy (aka eating bugs)! Last month we asked you:
How many insect species are edible?
A. 50 B. 100 C. 500 D. 1000+
The correct answer is D. 1000+. Congratulations to our Green Quiz winners!
Most of us don’t think much of our creepy crawly friends. In fact, many of us try to avoid them altogether. So while the thought of a plate of roasted insects is probably not your cup of tea, these critters could really be the key to meeting the challenges of our growing global food demand.
And considering that our global population hit 7 billion at the end of October 2011, raising issues of long term sustainability and our ability to feed ourselves, we may need to consider expanding our menus.
Believe it or not, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) thinks it’s high time we broaden our minds and start thinking about including bugs in our diets. Serving up more insects could be a great move for the planet since insects can provide protein with a much lower environmental impact than cows, pigs, or sheep. To produce a kilo of beef for instance, requires 13 kilos of grass, but one kilo of crickets or grasshoppers requires only 1.5 to 2 kilos of feed. Plus, raising insects for consumption produces a fraction of the carbon dioxide emissions produced from raising livestock.
Not quite ready to dip your spoon in some bug stew yet?
Take your time. But here’s some extra food for thought: insects have been cooked up and served around the world for millennia. So, we probably have to concede that our “eww” reaction is really just a result of our modern sensibilities.
Maybe it’s time we think about expanding our culinary horizons and consider chowing down on more sustainable protein sources. Let us know if you’ve ever dined on bugs and what you think about a green diet of insects in our comment section below!
And to get to know the environmental importance of all kinds of insects and invertebrates (not just the edible ones) check out EarthShare member group The Xerces Society, a nonprofit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.
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