Bugs, especially caterpillars, might be the only animal protein we can sustainably eat

Caterpillar farms: Growing the food of the future?

In all my research for my final creative project, I have concluded that eating meat, especially beef, is pretty much the worst thing we can do for the environment. As we heard in class, lowering meat consumption can have a hugely positive impact on the environment, and can improve world hunger. However, meat eating is so deeply rooted in our culture, routine, and understanding of health, that people have happily ignored the messages about its toll on the environment and continue to enjoy huge portions of animal protein.

This article explains how caterpillar farming might be a sustainable and cheap way to fight malnutrition in West Africa. The article cites the protein and micronutrients, like zinc and iron, as evidence of caterpillars’ usefulness as a sustainable alternative to other animal proteins. Insects take up less space to breed and grow than other animal proteins, and they emit far less waste. Once processed, caterpillars remain edible for up to 18 months. Clearly, this is a great alternative to the environmental degradation caused by animal protein, and the malnutrition caused by an overall lack of nutrients in parts of the world.

Although insects are eaten regularly in much of the world, westerners generally have a hard time getting over the “yuck factor” with bugs. Although there is objectively nothing less appealing about caterpillars than a juicy, bloody steak, we haven’t grown up with bugs around as food. Unfortunately, we are, as a nation and as part of the western world, not a very adventurous group. If we cannot even convince people to try quinoa instead of chicken, it might be a long time before we can normalize bugs as a healthy source of animal protein. However, if our meat consumption continues in the manner it has thus far, this will likely be our only option due to a lack of arable land.

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