Agriculture has come a long way in the past century. We produce more food than ever before — but our current model is unsustainable, and as the world’s population rapidly approaches the 8 billion mark, modern food production methods will need a radical transformation if they’re going to keep up. But luckily, there’s a range of new technologies that might make it possible. In this series, we’ll explore some of the innovative new solutions that farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs are working on to make sure that nobody goes hungry in our increasingly crowded world.
Across the world, it’s not uncommon for human beings to practice entomophagy — the consumption of insects — without a second thought. In fact, insects are often considered a delicacy in certain cultures. From the chapulines (toasted grasshoppers) of Mexico to the fried tarantulas of Cambodia, bugs regularly find their way into our bellies — without the accompaniment of braggadocious Instagram posts — “#OMG# I can’t believe I’m eating this!”
In much of Europe and North America, though, we don’t like to eat things with more than four legs. Insects are considered to be gross — not just because they live between bedsprings and below floorboards, but because of their crunchy texture and their villainous perception. Ask the next person you speak to their opinion on eating bugs, and you’re likely to receive an expression that’s a combination of disgust and incredulity.
The thing is, sooner than later, we may not have much of a choice. As the population grows, so does our need for food sources with manageable environmental footprints. Traditional livestock operations simply can’t scale to meet the demands of an eventual 9 billion meat-eating humans without wreaking havoc on the environment. Adding insects to our diets could help us avoid stressing our already overburdened food system.