In the guide below, we discuss two key queries about eating insects and bugs:
– Can they help ‘save the world’?
– Will we eat them in the future?
Can Eating Insects & Bugs Help ‘Save The World’?
Defining ‘Saving The World’
First, we have define what ‘saving the world’ means in this instance.
‘Saving the world’ could refer mainly to:
– Helping to meet future food demand (and protein demand) for a growing world population by consuming more insects
– Making sustainability improvements by eating more insects instead of more animal and plant based foods
Now that we have a rough idea of what ‘saving the world’ might mean, we can look at the potential impact of eating insects across the two relevant areas …
The Potential Impact Of Eating Insects & Bugs On Meeting Future Food & Protein Demand, & Also On Sustainability
Meeting Future Food Demand, & Protein Demand
In a separate guide, we outline the potential pros and cons of eating insects.
There are potential benefits of insect farming that might help address food security issues, and food demand issues, such as:
– Insect farming being potentially more versatile and accessible than some forms of traditional agriculture, and able to be farmed in a more diverse range of environments
– There being opportunities and options to scale up production
– There being opportunities and options to maximise protein yields and to ‘factory farm’ insects to increase efficiency of production
But, we also mention in that guide that insect production has a range of potential drawbacks to consider too, with some of those drawbacks being a lack of openness to eating insects in some countries, and also potential challenges in scaling up insect production.
We also mention that ultimately insects as food might be only one of several potential solutions in an overall strategy to meet future food and protein demand for a growing population
Several other reports mention something similar i.e. insect production and consumption isn’t the sole solution by itself to meet future food demand.
We’ve also put together other guides where we discuss whether there’s currently enough food in the world to feed everyone, and also whether there will be enough food in the world in the future.
In these guides, we echo similar conclusions.
What we also mention in those guides is that there other issues with our food systems that need to be addressed, other than just the quantity of food we are producing.
… anyone interested in food security should be looking for multiple solutions [and we shouldn’t] be expecting any one food to solve things …
time.com mentions how ‘education and stronger environmental protection laws’ might be one additional way specifically to protect forests deforestation in land conversion for livestock farming
Considering the rate at which we eat meat might be another
Eating insects and bugs may improve sustainability in some ways compared to eating animal and plant proteins, and there may also be some potential drawbacks to consider too.
One main sustainability benefit might be that insect farming/production may reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to some traditional types of farming.
We outline a list of sustainability and environmental considerations in this guide.
So, Can Eating Insects & Bugs Help ‘Save The World’?
Eating insects and bugs may help with future food and protein demand in several ways, and help address issues like food security in some regions.
It may also help improve sustainability compared to animal protein and plant protein in several ways.
But, it might not be one ‘fix all’ type solution to address all food & protein demand, and also sustainability related problems.
Beyond simply increasing insect production and consumption, there may be other issues that we need to consider and/or address related to overall food systems in society, as well as sustainability in other industries and sectors in society (such as energy generation, transport, and so on).
Will We Have To Eat Insects & The Bugs In The Future?
People Already Eat Insects & Bugs In Some Countries
Around 2 billion people worldwide already eat insects and bugs as part of their diet
Insects & Bugs Are Slowly Being Introduced In Other Countries
In countries where insects and bugs aren’t consumed on a wide scale, or they aren’t a common part of people’s diets, there’s several examples of them being introduced across different aspects of society.
There’s Some Signs That Insect & Bug Production & Consumption May Grow In The Future
Like for example investment in new farms, and projections that the edible insect market might grow over the next decade.
Some reports indicate that most investment is currently going into insects as feed for livestock, rather than for direct human consumption
Other Factors That Might Impact Whether More People Start Eating Insects & Bugs In The Future
Other factors that may impact whether more people start eating insects and bugs in the future, and how much, might be:
– How much the world population grows
– What the future food demand and protein demand is for the world population
– Whether problems associated with industrial agriculture get to a point where new agricultural practices like insect farming need to be implemented as one solution to address some of these problems
– The farmability of insects, and the practical factors (and challenges) involved with setting up and operating insect farming/production operations
– The level of financial investment in insect production/farming (whether it continues and increases or not)
– How successful the marketing of edible insects is to consumers
– Consumer behavior
In particular, how long consumers in some countries take to accept and be more open to trying whole insects and products with insect ingredients in them (and making them a more regular part of their diet)
The attitudes of younger generation in particular might matter
– The quality of the edible insect products
Such as how they taste, how long they stay fresh for, what they offer nutritionally, and how they compare to other food products
– Insect population numbers, and whether they increase or decline in some areas.
Habitat destruction (from cutting down trees, urbanisation, etc), and a changing climate can be an issue for insect population numbers in some regions
– Other external social factors such as what we do to address issues in the current agricultural and food systems, what we do in other industries to address sustainability issues (such as emissions), and so on
So, Will We Have To Eat Insects & Bugs In The Future?
It may depend on the individual country.
It also obviously depends on how food demand and sustainability related issues are addressed across society in the future.
It seems likely that insect and bug production and consumption may increase in some countries in the future.
But, how much may be in question – especially how much in relative to other sources of protein like animal protein and also plant protein.
What might also be in question is whether insect and bug production is increased simply as a form of feed for livestock, or, whether production is increased for both direct consumption by humans and also for insect ingredients in processed food products.
Some reports indicate that most of the investment into the edible insect and bug market is currently going towards insects as feed for other animals.
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides