Bug Bananza

It is clear that the human population does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon.  With projections expecting over 9 billion people on Earth by 2050, sustainable food and agriculture practices have become a prevalent topic.  How will we feed such a massive population, and how can we do it sustainably?  Entomophagy, the use of insects as food, is a concept that is growing in popularity.  Though the consumption of insects will not be the single golden key to sustainable food practice, they could contribute to part of the solution.

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Insects can be a more sustainable source of protein when compared to typical livestock.  Two kilograms of feed can produce 1kg of meat, 80 percent of which is edible.  On the other hand, cattle requires 8kg of feed for the same amount of meat.  Yet, only 40 percent of cattle is edible.  Insects also take less time to raise as they reproduce quickly and have shorter life spans.  In addition, they require less feed and water than current livestock options.  Food scraps and animal manure can be reused as insect feed, reducing competition against the human food supply.  On the consumption side, various bugs have more iron, protein, omega-3, and vitamins than traditional meat sources.

The most significant problem with implementing this diet is the actual factor of extending entomophagy into current food culture, especially in the Western world. Many other cultures around the world already consume insects regularly.  The United States is one of few countries that has such a strong negative stigma towards bug consumption, it would be difficult to influence our society to make the leap.

Success at bringing insects to the table have been seen when consumers cannot identify the insects in the dish.  This works similarly to how our culture eats traditional meat.  People are more comfortable with consuming animals when the actual animal is not staring back at them on the plate.  Rather than pushing people to eat whole insects, using powdered forms of insects could be a good starting point.  Crickets are commonly baked and crushed into a fine powder.  This powder can be placed in foods such as cookie dough, protein bars, and potato chips.  Some chefs are expanding the use of this powder in more attractive dishes such as cricket cobbler and “critter fritters”.

cobbler

With the use of cricket powder increasing in popularity, the negative view on insect consumption can potentially be diminished.  This could eventually result in another reliable form of protein in menus across America.

Have you or would you willingly eat insects? What are your personal opinions on eating insects? Do you think this form of food will catch on in the future or is this a lost cause?

http://time.com/3830167/eating-bugs-insects-recipes/

http://fortune.com/2016/04/18/eating-bugs-insect-protein/

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141014-time-to-put-bugs-on-the-menu

http://www.iflscience.com/environment/will-we-all-be-eating-insects-50-years/

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22 thoughts on “Bug Bananza

  1. This was a very interesting read. However, I think it would be very hard to implement in the US, and I personally would not try eating insects intentionally. I know in other countries, eating insects and other animals that we don’t typically eat may be the norm though. I have seen in random stores candies or lollipops that have ants or other types of bugs in it, and was curious in what they tasted like but never tried it. Even though insects are more sustainable in livestock feed, I think it would be hard to implement. Unless Americans are in starvation mode, I just can’t see insects being an alternative to cattle meat.

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  2. I think this is an amazing topic to discuss. With the numbers you mentioned, our input to output ratio with insects would be 8 times better than cattle production (with even better ratios depending on the length of time for full growth). I have not ever tried a grasshopper burger, but I believe if we put some time into developing one that tasted good, we could somehow integrate it into our culture. It’s a shame that there aren’t environmentalist chefs. Instead, renown chefs want to use items that are more rare and costly to the environment such as shellfish, swordfish, and caviar.

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  3. I will not going to eat bugs any time soon, and I doubt most Americans will do this. I think the only way this could ever be feasible if we are currently starving or that you “hide” the insect in other foods (critter fritters). It may end up becoming a hip or trendy thing to do, but for mainstream America this is a lost cause.

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  4. My mom found that the best way to get me to try something new was to not tell me what was in it. Knowing the ingredients is a big deterrent for many people. So, hiding the bugs in food is a good idea. It may also be helpful to slowly introduce entomophagy slowly into our culture. We can try using chocolate covered insects.

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  5. I have eaten insects. Fried crickets in SE Asia is pretty common. They taste like the seasoning they are fried in however, the texture does take some getting used to.
    I do think that American need to embrace new sources of protein and I think that insect flour is probably the most palatable way to do it. There have been several start up over the past few years focusing on cricket flour.

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  6. I Think that this would be a giant step for sustainability in the food industry based on your statistics when compared to cows. I think if people were to develop a taste for bugs before knowing what they actually were, this may create an opportunity for this industry. I do not believe gluttonous America will be making any progress in this direction in the near future, and predict we will be eating lab grown meat before insects. This is an unfortunate trend, but a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. This is a cool idea. I think the powder form is the best stepping stone to acclimate people to the idea. I work in a kitchen, and I was talking to my boss. He said he had heard of the powder, and he would be open to trying that with recipes before he would be open to putting an actual cricket on a plate. But the energetics behind eating bugs is a huge improvement from cattle, and it is definitely what our world needs to work towards in order to stay sustainable.

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  8. Very interesting read! Honestly I feel like I would go full vegetarian before I ate bugs. Besides the negative stigma that’s associated with eating bugs, I can’t envision working all day and ready to eat a nice hot meal only to crunch on some bugs. What I mean by that is that our society has come to value food not only in nutritional value, but also creatively and aesthetically. Could you picture someone going to a restaurant and taking a picture of a plate of crickets to post to their instagram? Then again, so many people aspire to be “foodies” that maybe it’s so crazy it could work!

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  9. Hearing the comparison between bugs and meat from cattle was a very interesting insight. I did not know the nutritional value that was associated with bugs until now. I know that bugs have been a common part of diets around other places in the world, but I still see it being a ways out until it becomes common in the US. I feel like the smartest approach of familiarization to eating bugs would be to introduce them in the powder form, instead of whole insects.

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  10. Negative stigma will be a major factor in determining food of the future. Other than prices drastically changing to make bug-derived meats the only option, I believe a gradual change is how we will see bugs quietly implemented. By this I mean like our “mystery meats” and “lower quality” meat that has a bunch of stuff mashed together and reshaped and/or recolored to the desired product – maybe a “meat burger” that is subtly, for example, 50% cattle-derived and 50% bug-derived. That or we could just pull a veil over consumers’ eyes like riders in the movie “Snowpiercer” eating “protein bars” that were generated from cockroaches. For now it will be interesting to see what insect-derived foods find their way to market!

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  11. I can see bugs being introduced into the more health-conscious consumer market. It can be introduced a variety of different ways, such as cricket powder marketed as protein powder, bugs used as a meat substitute, or marketed as an alternative protein/diet additive. Bugs are used in multiple different cultures for medicinal benefits That just sounds like a fad diet waiting to happen. Hopefully being stable and introduced into the mass markets

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  12. I have eaten insects during my time in Tanzania this past summer. It’s pretty common since we bought some at a corner store already packaged. It was crunchy, but honestly didn’t have any odd/weird taste/texture. It just tasted like whatever seasoning they used. It order to make this work they would just need to be marketed well, and emphasize the protein gain from them. Sure the powder form is a good idea to get the protein, but if we can find a way to bake and keep its crispiness, it could be a good healthy snack. Another way to encourage people to eat them would be to have some sort of certification on the insects to ensure they were not eating anything harmful.

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  13. I would for sure be willing to try insects. That being said, I do not know if I would be willing to use them as my main source of protein. The Seattle Mariners sold fried grasshoppers at their games this season. When they were first released they actually sold out of them throughout the stadium. People were coming to the baseball games just to try to grasshoppers. If people were told to only eat insects it would be one thing but at I first I think the weirdness would draw a lot of people to try.

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  14. I think that insects as a food source could be an excellent idea. But the issue in the United States is people’s societal adversion to the idea of eating bugs. If we are to overcome something like this we will need to gradually change people’s feeling on the subject through suggestion in all forms of media.

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  15. I think the biggest problem with eating insects is convincing Americans to do it. A lot of people in this country are picky enough. If their apples are bruised they won’t touch it. I think insects are a viable option for answering our growing food problem. The question is how do we introduce them into modern western society?

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  16. Very interesting! I think it is a super cool idea to take bugs from being something we absolutely do not want to see in our food to something that we are happy to eat! The feasibility of this I’m not 100% sure about, but I think with the growing “foodie” fad, this is something that celebrity chefs and high end sustainable restaurants could definitely get behind. I’m a big food network fan and I think it would be really neat to see a bug cooking show!

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  17. This is an awesome idea, and as I read the beginning of your post I could see that the difficult part would be convincing people to eat insects. I immediately jumped to some type of powder form in my head and then read what you put about cricket powder. I think there could be some way to deceive the public by calling the powder something else and it being sourced from insects, then later down the road it could be revealed what it was all along and maybe there wouldn’t be too much backlash. Very interesting topic, thanks for posting.

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  18. I tried cricket tacos once in NYC and I was not a fan! Although I would love to try more recipes and I think the entomology department does an event every year where they make bug dishes. They ate bugs in Tanzania and unfortunately I left before the season started!

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  19. Josephina, great article! As for this idea of consuming insects as a replacement for meat consumption, I think is an idea that should be implemented. We already know how harmful the meat industry is on the environment so a change like this would benefit our environmental overall. I know that there has been a movement of people drinking Cockroach milk, which is rich in protein and nutrients.

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  20. I think this is one of the topics that we have to popularize through cultural means. I feel like if we make it “trendy” then people will embrace it. Otherwise, from a behavioral standpoint, our expectations will make us intrinsically disgusted. I read an article about one food critic talking about how he could only get over his distaste if the bug didn’t seem like a bug. (I.e. if it was ground into flour instead of still whole.) On another note, many figs contain wasp corpses inside! And they are still delicious.

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  21. I think consuming insects as a supplement to the increased need for food for our growing population is a great idea. Insects will require much less real estate to farm them and have more protein per pound than meat. I think a very important thing to consider would be a way to possibly grind up or compact the insects into a paste or something that will have a more desirable texture and flavor. If this was done, i think the population would be very willing to jump on this movement.

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    1. When the stigma about eating insects was discussed, I was most definitely in the I think it’s super gross category. I think insect consumption and/or the idea of it is much harder for people to conquer because when you’re eating chicken, you’re eating chicken fingers. When you’re eating cow, you’re eating hamburger. While you are eating a chicken and a cow in both of these cases, neither are identifiable in your food; however, I often picture eating whole crickets and spiders, and I freak out about them somehow coming back to life and crawling up my throat or laying eggs inside of me. That being said, grinding things up like the crickets would make eating bugs a much more appealing and less frightening of an alternative.

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