≡ Menu

Feeding The 9 Billion: EU Researching Use Of Insects For Food Protein

Eating insect at a restaurant

McDonald’s and some other fast food joints may have gotten rid of “pink slime” in their meat products, but now, the European Union is looking to use another seemingly unsettling product to add protein to food: insects.

While the shock factor will likely be persistent in the minds of many customers, an insect-based food additive could be a more eco-friendly way to provide the rapidly growing world population with protein at an affordable cost. It’s cheaper and more ecologically sound to harvest bugs rather than large cattle.

The development of insect byproducts will take off in 2012, with the EU reportedly offering 3 million euros for a research project designed to “exploit the potential of insects as alternative sources of protein.”

In countries where bugs are already a significant part of the diet, industrial-scale farming of insects would be useful immediately. However, in countries where eating insects is considered gross and taboo, it’s hard to see fast food joints catching on quickly unless there is widespread public acceptance, or they twist the additive into a term that doesn’t make consumers think of multi-legged heebie jeebies.

Developing a plan for this may take several years. Aside from creating quality food additives that will be accepted by consumers, concerns related to food safety such as allergy risks related to plants consumed by insects may delay it as well.

With 9 billion people expected to populate the world by 2050, do you think insect additives are a good way to feed the population and replenish the already stressed food supply? For those who refuse to eat less beef, it may soon be one of the few choices we have if we want to make a difference at all.

Image CC licensed by George Arriola: Insects are on the menu at a restaurant in California

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous

    If we ever manage to produce a good ‘imitation meat’ textured protein, then hopefully the bugs will just become another feedstock, like soy or algae.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Or more cultures might get a taste for them over time. There didn’t used to be any sushi shops in Western countries, now they are everywhere. We got a taste for raw fish pretty quickly.

  • Anonymous

    It would be interesting to look back and follow the rise of the sushi franchise.

    At a guess, I would say that it’s probably not as ‘everywhere’ as one might expect. Major, cosmopolitian cities, yes, but filtering only slowly out to minor provincial and the rural townships.  I wouldn’t expect to find one in rural Poland, for instance, or, probably, Terhan.

    Sushi presumably followed along with the Asian diaspora, so there’ve been sushi shops as long as there’s been little Koreas or Chinatowns, but it took some sort of catalyst in the, what, 80s? for them to spread into ‘western’ consciousness.  I would hazard a guess and say it was some kind of celebrity or entertainment endorsement, but I don’t know for sure

    Duplicate the catalyst, and you might achieve the same thing with insects, but I think it would be very hard going given the more fundamental relationship between the west and insects.

    Fish, we’ve been eating fish forever, and sushi is just another way of doing so. Odd, perhaps, but no odder that someone who loves blue steak.

    Insects, though, have never been a food source, and in fact, except for a couple of useful species (like bees) they’ve generally been considered vermin (like locusts) and/or the carriers of disease.  It’s the same reason that we don’t eat rats, and why you wouldn’t get most people to discriminate between clean ‘farmed’ rat and the dirty, filthy denizens of the sewer.

  • http://www.stichtingmilieunet.nl/andersbekekenblog Milieunet

    Insects are the Food of the Future, Dutch Scientists Arnold van Huis say http://bit.ly/fCykYE

  • http://www.performanceinsiders.com/ageless-male.html Ageless Male

    just be aware of insect that you eat manny insects have a poisonus venom