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What would happen if we started eating more and more insects? You’re about to find out

Posted May 6, 2017

We all know what is coming in the future – a large bundle of problems. Growing population and climate change is going to pose more and more challenges on global society. Food is already a big problem and has been for some time, but with world struggling to cut harmful emissions it is likely that lack of food is going to spread. Unless… how about eating bugs?

In the future all of us will have to eat insects to some extent Image credit: Erwin Verbruggen via Wikimedia

Of course, insects being so common would become a very good and easily accessible food source. However, they could also help cutting harmful emissions if people would be willing to eat something that is currently considered “icky”. Farming, which is how we grow our food, is responsible for producing a large amount of greenhouse gasses as well as causes a number of other problems, related to deforestation, monoculture fields and so on. So replacing a number of cows with insects could solve so many problems, including harmful emissions.

But people do not want to eat insects for now, how do we convince them? Well, scientists say that people will eat whatever is presented to them. So insects could become an ingredient in pre-packaged food. Scientists compared the environmental impacts of conventional meat production with those of alternative sources of food. They wanted to see what would happen if half of the current mix of animal products would be replaced with insects, lab-grown meat or imitation meat. Insects and imitation meat might be the future, as they require the least amount of land and energy to produce.

Scientists calculated that changing half of our animal products to insects and imitation meat would free up 1680 million hectares of land – 70 times the size of the UK. This would be a huge gain for the environment, especially having in mind that only half of our current animal products would have to go. You would not even notice insects in your food… probably.

Livestock consumes a third of our edible crops. In that process it produces a lot of harmful gasses – both directly from animals and logistics. Dr Peter Alexander, scientists from the University of Edinburgh, said: “A mix of small changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would help achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system”.

In the future it may not be a choice anymore – we will have to eat insects and artificial meat. Growing population poses greater and greater challenges, regarding food and emissions of harmful gasses. So get your plates ready – creepy crawlers are coming to your meals.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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