In an afternoon speaking and listening class this week we watched a talk about the eating of insects, and how this is part of the diet of about 80% of the world’s population.
We then talked about whether we, as non-insect eating people, would be willing to change our diets and eat insect protein as an alternative to traditional protein sources. No-one in the class seemed very keen on the idea!
Read the article on insect eating and then answer the questions with either TRUE (T), FALSE (F) or NOT GIVEN (NG).
In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation caused by the world’s growing appetite for meat, it is vital that some changes in the world’s diet are made. One such change is to find an alternative to traditional meat eating (cows, sheep, pigs, chickens etc.) in the form of the eating of insects.
Globally, twice as much land is used to raise cattle, pigs and other animals than is used to grow crops. Furthermore, a third of those crops harvested are fed back to livestock. Recent research has found that if half of traditional animal products were replaced by insect protein the land required to produce the world’s food would be slashed by a third.
As the world’s population continues to grow land is needed for towns and cities and agricultural land is increasingly under pressure. New research from the University of Handsworth acknowledges that eating insects is a challenging, new idea in western nations.
Currently, mainly in Asia, more than 200 species of insects are regularly eaten by people across almost 200 nations, including things such as crickets and mealworm larvae. Especially in Asia, insect consumption is widespread and is not seen as being unusual. In Europe, by contrast, this habit is unusual and researchers are hoping that foods, once shunned, can eventually become acceptable. The humble tomato is a case in point; hated when first introduced into Europe and now a mainstay of many people’s diets.
Another issue is that fact that the developing world is eating more meat as they can now afford to buy it but if everyone in the world begins to eat meat equal to the amount in an average American’s diet then it will be very difficult to sustain: with current production practices, more than the entire area of the planet would be required for this. The ideal solution is a global convergence on modest meat consumption. We are moving slowly in the right direction and there is some cause for optimism.
- Historically, farm animals provide the meat that most people eat.
- Cattle are now as twice as big as they used to be.
- There is an escalating pressure to turn agricultural land into housing.
- Insects are eaten in more than 200 countries.
- The tomato was introduced to Europe from South America.
- There is not enough land for everyone to eat meat at USA consumption levels.