Wish To Save The World? Eat Bugs!

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Deep-fried insects on sale at a food stall in Bangkok, Thailand (Credit: Takoradee/Creativecommons.org/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

Experts assert that if food were a country, it would rank third behind China and the US as one of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters. The reason is the ever-rising demand for meat. Livestock farming is responsible for 14.5 percent of global methane emissions. While cows are the worse offenders, pigs, sheep, and other animals contribute as well.

Animal husbandry also causes land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. With the world population forecast to rise to 9.8 billion by 2050, things are only looking worse for our already dwindling natural resources. While going vegetarian would undoubtedly help, meat consumption is too ingrained in most western diets to allow for such a drastic, permanent shift. That is why environmentalists are advocating substituting some of the beef, chicken, or pork with delectable bugs!

The environmental impact of livestock farming (Credit: Thinkgreen.gov.gi)

Insects, which transition from larva to pupa to adult within a matter of months, if not weeks, are ready for consumption much faster than livestock. They also require much less room, use a fraction of the water and food needed for animal livestock, and produce far less greenhouse gas and ammonia.

Of the 1.1 million insect species worldwide, scientists have identified 1,700 as edible. Among them are termites, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, grubs, and earthworms. Just like livestock, each insect has a distinct taste. Termites are tangy and minty, tree worms taste just like pork, and sago grubs are similar to bacon.

Insect cultivation requires much less space (Credit: Little Heroes. Org)

While eating bugs might be a new concept for Western Hemisphere residents, over 2 billion people worldwide​​​​​​ consume these critters as a regular part of their diet. Besides being delicious, bugs are high in protein, have very few calories, and are free of the saturated fat found in animal meat. Insects are also very versatile. Creative chefs can use them to whip up protein-rich soup stocks, make crunchy baked treats, and even stir-fry a few with their vegetables.

Insects are full of nutrition (Credit: Trendhunter.com)

Fortunately, those unable to stomach the thought of cracking open the crispy shell of a tarantula the way they would tear into a Dungeness crab have other choices. They can replace some of their regular protein sources by using cricket flour for baking or select one of the many readymade products, such as pasta and crackers, which incorporate the insect flour. So go ahead and kick trepidation to the curb - both your body and Mother Earth will thank you for it!

Resources: fao.org, davidsuzuki.org, NPR.org

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advocatingbiodiversityconceptconsumptiondeforestationdelectabledistinctdrasticdwindlingedibleenvironmentalistsforecastgreenhouse gasincorporateoffenderstarantulatermitestransition trepidationversatile
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Reading Comprehension (12 questions)

  1. Which countries are the world's top two greenhouse gas emitters?
  2. Why does food generate so much greenhouse gas?
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Critical Thinking Challenge

Why will the increasing world population put additional pressure on our...

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Vocabulary in Context

"While going vegetarian would undoubtedly help, meat consumption is too ingrained in most western diets to allow for such a drastic, permanent shift."

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634 Comments
  • JakeWednesday, March 13, 2019 at 9:39 am
    This is disgusting I will become a vegetarian!!! DISGUSTING!
    • Anti-bug eatingWednesday, March 13, 2019 at 9:36 am
      Eww there is no way someone will make me eat this GROSS!
      • personWednesday, March 13, 2019 at 9:32 am
        The article was interesting but there is no way I am eating bugs! I think they are gross
        • BUGDOTuesday, March 12, 2019 at 6:12 pm
          I EAT BUGS FOR LIFE!!! :)
          • HITuesday, March 12, 2019 at 3:08 pm
            I will never eat bugs! gross! YUCK!
            • YELLOWTuesday, March 12, 2019 at 1:35 pm
              No offence but I really don't want to eat bugs.
              • caleb ball Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 11:47 am
                IM NOT EATING BUGS but its cool
                • JASATuesday, March 12, 2019 at 10:16 am
                  I not going to eat bugs they are gross. But I am sure there are other ways to save the world. So please don't convince me :)
                  • Hallo_:)Monday, March 11, 2019 at 2:59 pm
                    I hope we DON"T have to eat bugs
                    • SAvvMonday, March 11, 2019 at 1:50 pm
                      I did this for homework

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