Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A new cash crop that’s good for the environment too!

If you aren’t confused enough by the food pyramid, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) wants you to eat more of a new food source.


Trade in your burgers and fries for beetles and fries. Forget nachos. Instead you could be eating grasshoppers and salsa. How about a meal of mealworms? Or some slug soup with caterpillars for a garnish. Yummy!

Yes the FAO is saying that we should switch from eating meat to eating bugs to better use our natural resources. There is a policy paper drafted by a Belgian entomologist that is under consideration.

Less land for livestock means more room for crops and somehow that means fewer greenhouse gasses. Apparently insects are more “metabolically efficient” which makes them cheaper to raise. And because they are more genetically different from us, insects aren’t subject to contagious disease transmission like livestock are. No Mad Moth syndrome would lurk in the future.

They’re high in protein and calcium. They’re low in fat and--I assume--high in fiber. Plus just think of the variety. You could go almost 3 years and never eat the same bug twice. Makes you wonder why we haven’t been eating the crunchy critters all along.

If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, you know there are places in the world where entomophagy—bug eating—is done. You can even learn about incorporating bugs in your diet. That site is based on an essay dating back to 1885.

In fact, bug farming is already common in other parts of the world. The UN has started a locust farming pilot in Laos. Some 15,000 household farmers reportedly raise locusts in Thailand. Instead of counting cows, your banker could be counting ants?

It could happen if the UN has its way.

But don’t sell your combine yet.

We wouldn’t be forced to trade calf fries for sawflies any time soon. The proposal suggests raising insects to feed livestock and them phasing it into the human diet more directly later. Eventually they’ll grind the bugs up and press them into patties to trick us into eat them.

Not to mention the economy will have to get a lot worse before most of us would ever consider eating bugs. But if it eventually comes to pass, I wonder how the animal rights activists will try to restrict confined insect feeding operations?

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