Entomophagy and the question of meat

March 14, 2017

Entomophagy and the question of meat

While in many countries of the world insects have been considered a kind of food for a long time, in others, there is still some adversity.
But, thinking about it, maybe those countries which consider crickets and grasshoppers as a nutritious meal have a point.

The advantages of the entomophagy are many.

The first that comes to mind is the one that involves the nutritional plan: insects are rich, indeed very rich, in protein. In equal quantities, insects contain much more proteins than a steak.
In addition to that, there is another advantage comparing the entomophagy with the abovementioned steak. We are not talking about comparing the nutritional values but the whole production process.

It is true that a large part of the world eats calves and pigs, snubbing insects, but it is also true that to breed a calf and produce from it the meat that finishes on our tables has a price, in many senses, that should not be underestimated.

In Italy for example, we raise about 9 million bovine animals, both intended for slaughter as for milking.
In the United States, the heads are almost 50 million.

That can be translated, as a direct consequence, in an increase of the greenhouse gas, due to the natural gas emission of the animal. Just think that a single head produces almost 500 liters of methane gas in just one day. By multiplying this amount for more than 1 billion cattle raised in the whole world, the figures become alarmingly high.
With a quick calculation, it is possible to obtain that the cows, together, contribute to producing about 15% of all the planet methane.

But the problems are not limited to direct pollution.

Dried Tenebrio larvae

To raise such a number of cattle, pigs, and sheep, whose numbers are high as well, it is necessary a large amount of fodder.
About half of the currently available fertile lands contain crops intended for livestock breeding.

And although it is certainly true that these animals also eat parts of the plant that wouldn't be available for human consumption, the situation continues to become year after year more and more unsustainable.
The fodder crops increase, subtracting land to other animal species and destroying forests.

Another problem is the massive use of water resources, essential for growing fodder and carrying on farming.
It is estimated that to produce one kilogram of beef about 15 thousand liters of water are used.

Finally, the harm caused to the ecosystems, especially in the United States, where the intensive farming systems are replaced by the immense ranches, it is incalculable.

As if it were not enough, the consumption of meat, especially in the USA and in the countries of the developing world, continues to increase and with it the increase of livestock and resources used in breeding.
For a while already the authorities recommend using less meat and animal products, especially red meat, less healthy and less environmentally friendly, but the main problem is that of the lack of a sufficiently nutritious alternative protein source.

Entomophagy could be a part of the solution.

With an higher amount of proteins not only to those of a steak, but also to those of its popular alternative, tofu, and a minor amount of fat, insect-meals represent the food of the future.

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