Why eating insects is a sustainable consumption choice.
Fortunately, it seems that almost everyone has understood that even in the kitchen you have to be sustainable!
Great chefs are sustainable, food influencers doing dances on Tiktok are sustainable, and even average Joe is sustainable.
But how do you make a world that by 2050 could be home to nine billion people sustainable? I guess they’ll all just be happy being able to have two three meals a day, right?
Good question, let’s do that, let’s find a place to start: you’ll have to change your habits.
Given the inefficiency of current farming systems, one of the trickiest areas to address, will be to seek new methods of producing protein sources with reduced environmental impact. We are talking about giving more space to vegetable proteins, we are talking about cultivating stem cells to produce synthetic meat.
We talk about insects, about eating insects.
Let’s take a look at how an insect farm works and try to understand what the environmental benefits of a more entomophagous world than we already have would be like. Yes, some two billion people already routinely supplement their diets with nearly two thousand different species of edible insects.
An insect’s body is almost entirely edible. We eat a little more than half of the weight of a chicken, while the edible part of a beef is 40%.
From a nutritional point of view, a kilo of raw insect material has much more protein than a kilo of fat.
Even the “substrate” itself, the soil on which insects rest and feed, can become a useful opportunity to recover products that would otherwise be wasted. The agro-food industry creates an enormous quantity of vegetable waste which is not suitable for human consumption, but which is perfect for that of many species of insects. Why not take advantage of this?
To understand how much space is needed to raise an animal, it is not enough to consider only the land area occupied by the breeding station.
At least two other factors must be kept in mind: the animal’s ability to convert food into body mass and the area of farmland used in the production of feed for the animal. It may seem trivial, but a farmed cow eats things that take up space to grow, what a hassle huh?
Let’s start with the physical structure of the farm.
This issue can be resolved quickly: insects take up little space and are very light.
Developing vertical farms is easy to do and is a common practice in the industry. In addition, it must be said that many animals fail to experience a natural physiological condition when constricted in tight spaces, not insects.
Grasshoppers and mealworms, for example, naturally tend to live in small spaces or crammed together. Thus, even in captivity, it is possible to recreate the right physiological condition for the animal being bred.
As for the other two problems, let’s talk about numbers: to get a kilo of beef you need about ten kilos of feed, for a kilo of crickets you need less than two kilos. At the end of the day, one kilo of beef, in terms of space, takes up 250 square metres, one kilo of crickets takes up just 15. Two beach volleyball courts versus the space occupied by a couple of parked cars.
Again, the water footprint, an expression that indicates the volume of fresh water required to produce a good, is an aggregate figure.
Alas, it is not only the water that the animal drinks during growth that we need to calculate, it would seem that almost 90% of the water used for our steak was used to water the fodder that the animal ate to reach slaughter weight.
The average is around 12000 liter of water per kilo of meat.
Let’s imagine it this way: to produce two kilos of meat you need a quantity of water that would fill a single room up to the ceiling, give or take a liter. A kilo of protein from insects, on the other hand, costs a quarter of the water needed for a kilo of protein from cattle. A quarter.
LESS GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
We are talking about two greenhouse gases in particular: carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).
In the case of carbon dioxide, the connection is very simple: in order to create farmland for growing fodder for livestock, large tracts of rainforest are cleared every year. Forests where, every day, hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide is transformed into fresh oxygen.
On the methane front, on the other hand, there’s not much to go on. Have you ever walked on a mountain pasture? Do you have any idea how much poop a cow makes every day? I’ll tell you. A cow produces about thirty kilos of manure every day. Manure, which, as it decomposes, releases methane into the atmosphere.
Not only does manure release methane though, cows also produce it every time they burp, and apparently they average one per minute. Yeah, someone counted it.
According to the New York Times, there are about a billion cattle in the world. If we considered them a nation, this would be the sixth largest methane emitter in the world.
More than 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere can be attributed to the meat industry.
Produce less, produce better.
There is no right way and no wrong way to make less of an impact on the environment.
There are practices that are more or less different from one’s habits and there are actions that leave deeper footprints than others.
It’s the end that we need to keep track of: preventing things from sucking more than they already do. Any contribution is as useful as the others and they all bring us closer towards the common goal.
We believe that insects are at least worth considering.
Many people stay away from them only out of disgust, all because of the banquet scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!…
Joking aside, if you want to try them, they are good and they taste better than you think.
As for the rest, just inform yourself, no blame no shame.
Everybody according to their own sensitivities, everybody with their own energy!