Why Eat Insects?
As of 2020, The world's population is over 7.5 billion people; this is expected to explode to just under 10 Billion people by 2050 and increase again to over 11.2 Billion by 2100.
With the boom in population and the rise of income in developing countries, there will be a massive increase in demand for food, particularly protein.
However, there are environmental and social trade-offs with increasing food production such as the use of and clearing land for farming, greenhouse gasses for the burning of fossil fuels, methane gas from livestock and the use of resources such as fresh water and feed.
For example, Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock, and the total cattle population for the world is approximately 1.3 billion occupying some 24% of the land of the planet. This land and resources could be used for housing and nutrition for humans instead.
With these problems on the horizon, we need to look at innovative solutions. A 2013 FAO report (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) determined that insects could be one potential solution. Due to their unique benefits and characteristics such as being very high in protein, high feed conversion rate, cold-blooded and efficient use of space.
Water and Feed
To produce 1kg of beef you require 10,000 grams of feed and 22,000 litres of water. Comparatively, crickets only require 1,700 grams of feed and less than 1 litre of water to produce the same 1kg of edible protein.
Insects are cold-blooded, giving them are higher feed conversion rate (how much feed is needed to produce a 1 kg increase in weight). This means they require fewer inputs (food and water) to get an equal amount of edible protein when compared to traditionally farmed, warm-blooded animals.
70% of arable land goes to meat production, either directly for pasture land or growing feed for livestock.
According to a 2013 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it requires 200m2 of arable land to produce 1kg of beef. It only requires 15m2 to produce the same 1kg of insect protein.
On average, insect farming requires less area due to innovations like vertical farming techniques. It is vital that we use the space available on Earth more efficiently.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions from methane gases, that is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
The average greenhouse gases produced from the production of 1kg of beef is 2,850 grams.
In comparison crickets produce only 1 gram of GHG per 1kg of protein. Farming insects is more efficient and environmentally friendly.