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Sorry, we’re out of meat, would you like some maggots?

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Posted May 2, 2019

Population is growing and is not going to stop any time soon. And there is pretty much nothing we can do about that. But there is a problem – agricultural industry is fairly limited and we won‘t be able to produce meat for all the people in the world in the near future. What will we eat? Well, according to scientists from the University of Queensland we will have to turn to maggots, locusts and other alternatives for protein.

Meat producers will not be able to meet the demands of growing population and we will have to look for alternative sources of protein. Image credit: Alpha via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

You may be thinking “I’m never going to eat maggots”. However, it is possible that you’re not going to have a choice. The world’s population is growing at an unprecedented rate and sooner or later we will be short on meat. Of course, lab-grown products are going to be more common, but maggots and locusts are more natural. Scientists say that the biggest potential for new protein sources is in insects and in plants. Plants are easy to eat and we already enjoy them in our diet very much. But would you eat a maggot sausage? Or maybe a meatloaf made of locusts? Worm steak?

Some Westerners are quite open and do not hesitate to try some pre-prepared food made from insects. However, studies have shown that even the most open people in the West refuse the idea that they might have to prepare such food themselves and eat it as a meal. It just seems gross to us. However, this attitude changes if insects are disguised completely and are not even noticeable. We already knew that because a lot of natural food dyes contain insects, but we eat that food anyway without even thinking about it. This means that insects, maggots and larvae will have to be incorporated into existing food in order to be easier to be accepted by picky Western eaters.

And we are being picky. In a huge portion of the world, insects are a normal part of the diet. However, if we completely reject the idea of eating them, there are some other solutions. For example, scientists have shown that broiler chicken fed on high-larvae diet grow up to be as big and delicious. Feeding larvae and insects to chickens would reduce consumption of grain, which then can be used to make something nicer for people. And it is natural – birds in the wild eat worms, larvae and insects. Dr Louwrens Hoffman, one of the leading researchers in the subject, said: “There needs to be a better understanding of the difference between animal feed and human food, and a global reappraisal of what can constitute healthy, nutritional and safe food for all”.

And if we do stay with meat, we may have to incorporate more of kangaroo and goat meat, because they graze in areas that are not really suitable for agriculture. In any way, we will have to deal with the challenges of growing population. Food is going to be more expensive and even bigger problems could emerge from that. Could you imagine what would happen if one of the big countries started lacking food?

 

Source: University of Queensland

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