In the United States, most people only eat bugs accidentally. We’ve swallowed a bug or two while driving or biking, and there’s also the urban myth that people sometimes eat up to eight spiders in their sleep every year. Now that people are starting to look towards the future and are thinking about ending world hunger within our lifetime, there’s a creepy crawly answer to what the next superfood might be.
Eating bugs is not common in many western countries, but that might quickly change. A new study just came out from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition where they compared the nutritional values of insects compared to more traditional forms of meat like beef and chicken. Between the meats there was no significant difference in qualities like calories, sodium, sugar and saturated fat content but there was a large difference in the amount of vitamins and minerals between insects and other meat.
You may already be eating a lot of bugs each year without knowing, if you want to be grossed out check out the list from the USDA of how many insects are allowed in your food. If you’re not ready to be munching down on live bugs Hakuna Matata style, you can grab yourself a cricket milkshake or a cricket infused energy bar. You may want to start looking into alternative sources of protein like this, especially seeing as bacon was recently shown to be a cause of cancer. That’s right everybody, wave goodbye to the Baconator and maple bacon donuts.
Along with being healthy, bugs could also help save thousands of lives. Many people are predicting a food shortage within the next few decades, and farming bugs for eating could help alleviate the potential for mass starvation. Insects are easy to farm, can be grown indoors or in urban settings, and take up significantly less space than cattle or pigs do. Not to mention the fact that cattle are a large contributor to climate change.
Right now 80% of the world countries are eating over 1000 different species of insects, and over 70% of all agricultural land is being used to raise livestock. If we reduced our dependence on traditional sources of protein, we could have huge amounts of space for growing produce in. A large change like this combined with concepts like vertical farming could help feed thousands of people more effectively.
Eating bugs may also help prevent obesity. In 2008 there was 1.4 billion adults that were considered overweight, so that number would be significantly larger today. A study from the U.N. showed that along with being a great source of vitamins and minerals, bugs also contain lots of healthy fats, which are less common in other meats. Just think about it, have you ever seen a fat bug?
If you want to learn more about how insects benefit our planet and us, check out this great TED talk from Marcel Dicke about eating bugs: