Could Eating Bugs Help Slow Climate Change?

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.

Related Reading:
Climate Change Refugees: Plants, Animals, And Insects
Would You Eat Bugs To Fight Climate Change?
Does Your Diet Cause Climate Change?

Image Credit: Flickr - manbartlett

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597 comments

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dale Overall

Fascinating and intriguing. I'm sure that there are some crunchy deep fried tasty insects out there packed with protein.

Judging from the amount of insect content allowed in foods within say, the U.S., people are already eating insects without knowing it. Cochineal bugs are used as food colour in many foods, baked goods, meats, some cheeses, pie filling, jams, etc.

This fact did not go down well with vegans/vegetarians upon learning that Starbucks used Cochineal extract in Strawberry Frappucino drinks.

The FDA even keeps stats: In frozen asparagus and Brussels spouts, some 40 thrips per 100 grams is allowable, dates that are chopped have 5 whole insects/100 grams, orange juice is resplendent with the eggs of 5 fruit flies or one formerly squirming maggot/250 milliliters.of orange goodness.

Those eating pasta will be delighted to know there is 225 insect fragments nestled in each 225 gram morsels. I could go on but even vegans are not safe! Your food once wiggled even if it is chocolate or peanut butter.

I eat small amounts of organic meat but could be induced to try insects if they taste good. While deep fried tarantulas are sold in Asia they are still arachnids.

Dale Overall

Sorry, that should have read Brussels sprouts, not spouts in the comment I made below and no period after the word milliliters...forgot to proof read after a feline asked for a Treat!

Pepe Pops
Pepe Pops3 years ago

When i was like 2 or something my mom told me i ate, ants at the playground a couple of times,
have nooooo freaking idea why..Did I help?Yes?awesome!

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

I've been to many countries and have tried them, sometimes they can make a good meal.

Dresia V.
Dresia Vaughn3 years ago

No thank you. I would rather not be around if and when it comes to this.

Anton K.
Past Member 3 years ago

The presentation of that appetizer tray leaves a little to be desired. Maybe some decorative toothpicks and a little garnish?

Maritza Garcia
Maritza Garcia4 years ago

Not in my menu!

cassandra toney
cassandra toney4 years ago

you gotta be kidding.leave the bugs where they belong..outdoors!!!