No matter how much you like the taste of a hamburger it’s hard to argue with the fact that raising cattle for commercial consumption damages the environment and contributes to growing levels of greenhouse gases.
Scientists think that eating insects, a practice that’s common place in most developing nations, could be one way to ease food insecurity and slow the negative effects of climate change.
A recent study published in PLoS ONE found that in the future, “insects could serve as a more environmentally friendly alternative for the production of animal protein with respect to GHG and NH3 emissions.”
This means that from a climate standpoint, substituting a cockroach sandwich for that hamburger could be the best way to give both your body and the planet the nourishment that it needs.
According to the study’s lead author, an entomologist from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, 80 percent of the world’s population eats insects, yet they are shunned in the cuisine of most developed countries. (SciDev.net)
In order to compare the relative environmental impact of insects and cattle, scientists reared mealworms, locusts and crickets, all of which are consumed around the world, as well as sun beetles and cockroaches, which people do not eat, despite their potential as a protein source, while monitoring the amount of gas produced per kilogram of insect growth, according to SciDev’s Benjamin Kolb.
They found that insects had a higher relative growth rate and emitted comparable or lower amounts of GHG than described in literature for pigs and much lower amounts of GHG than cattle. The same was true for CO2 production per kg of metabolic weight and per kg of mass gain.
Nurturing insects, rather than livestock, as a source of protein could be an easy and affordable way to bolster the global food supply as well as reduce the amount of GHG emissions attributed to agriculture.
Image Credit: Flickr - manbartlett