Natures Slightly Nutty Answer to Unsustainable Meat Agriculture!

Let’s face the facts. Crickets may be the “gateway bug” but they’ll need to hire a much better PR firm if they ever want to become a dietary staple in this country.  Entomophagy (the highbrow word for bug eating) has a major “yuk” factor to overcome in most of the western world. Undoubtedly our ancient ancestors ate plenty of bugs back in the hunter-gatherer era so we shouldn’t have any kind of instinctual aversion to bug munching. Although on second thought, they probably wiped their butts with grass and leaves too and most of us have an aversion to that. My theory may not hold up but eventually it could become a moot point.

The population growth on this planet will eventually outpace our ability to produce enough animal flesh as a primary protein source. That’s going to leave plant protein and insects. Bugs may well end up being the only source of animal protein available for billions of people.

Apparently the vegetarian community is conflicted about incorporating insects into vegetarianism. I can understand why it’s such a contentious issue. Bugs are animals right? If you don’t eat animals it follows you shouldn’t eat bugs but most of the reasons for abstaining from animal flesh don’t apply to eating insects. A lot of meat objectors on humanitarian grounds don’t equate killing crickets, mealworms or grasshoppers for food with killing pigs, rabbits, sheep or cows. Maybe it’s because we don’t anthropomorphize creepy-crawly insects nearly as much as furrier, fuzzier, cuddlier and more relatable farm animals.

In any case, something has to give or we’ll run out of food for the masses and create biological wastelands and “fish free” oceans in the process. The numbers supporting entomophagy as the most sustainable solution to our planets looming animal protein deficit are hard to ignore.

Some food-science experts claim that crickets have a third more protein than beef and only half the fat. Studies have shown that while cattle chomp down 25 pounds of feed per pound of meat they produce, crickets only nibble about 2 pounds of cricket chow for every pound of their slightly nutty tasting tucker. If you really want your mind blown think water! According to some researchers, one gallon of water can raise a pound of crickets while a cow needs to slurp about 2000 gallons to yield that same pound of protein. With fresh water already in short supply in parts of our country and around the world it’s no small wonder meat agriculture can’t be sustained at current levels let alone any increased production necessary to keep up with a growing population.

Not ready to trade your filet-mignon for cricket tartar? The final nail in meat agricultures coffin may be global warming. By some estimates, the large-scale raising of meat animals for slaughter, along with dairy and egg production is responsible for more greenhouse gasses than all modes of transportation combined.  That’s right, I’m talking planes, trains, cars, trucks, boats, motopogos (motorized pogo sticks) and you name it. The humble cricket produces 100 times fewer greenhouse gasses than cattle and has a “food conversion efficiency” of close to 20 times higher.

When the big boys like Monsanto and Tyson Foods, with their gurus of marketing and cultural embedding, finally set their sights on cricket, I predict we’ll all be eating cricket canapes faster than you can say “Jumpin Jiminy”.

Published by Bill Hoover