Of all our food sources, what is the most efficient at converting carbohydrates to protein?
Not cattle, certainly. Ten pounds of feed generates one pound of beef. Plus each cow raised in the industrial system needs about 2000 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, and a single cow can produce up to 132 gallons of methane a day. Methane is twenty times more heat-trapping than carbon dioxide.
Chicken? It takes ten pounds of feed to generate five pounds of chicken meat, and 468 gallons of water to produce one pound of chicken.
The most efficient protein source? And the most environmentally friendly?
Ten pounds of feed produces nine pounds of cricket meat. Insects barely need water, and generate almost zero greenhouse gases. Insect meat is high in fat, which, contrary to the diet soda hype in the U.S., is critical for health. Insects reproduce rapidly, in small spaces. They can be used as food for livestock.
Two billion people already rely on about 2000 edible insects as a source of food. We’re not just talking exotic chefs in Asia. Here in the U.S.A., the FDA allows up to:
— 30 insect parts in 100 grams of peanut butter
— 30 fruit fly eggs in 100 grams of tomato sauce
— 10 insects in 8 ounces of golden raisins
— 10 maggots in 100 grams of drained mushrooms
Bottom line: Americans eat about 500 grams of insects and insect parts every year. That’s the equivalent of a little over a pound of chicken.
Fans of the film “Snow Piercer” will appreciate the potential for insects as a food source. Or maybe not.
Feeling brave and looking for your own arthropod recipe? If you’re in New Orleans, drop by the Insectatorium where the Executive Bug Chef is whipping up holiday treats.
How about this as a gift to yourself or a loved one?
David George Gordon’s Eat-a-Bug cookbook was listed as one of the New York Times best cookbooks of 2013. If you’re in Seattle, Mr. Gordon’s home town, you can join one of his cooking demonstrations.
￼Moi? Truth be told, the only insects to pass my lips (except the FDA-allowable ten bugs per eight ounces in my raisins), were chocolate covered ants a so-called friend fed me for a joke, many, many years ago. She watched me chew with bright-eyed glee that would have tipped off anyone but the most ardent chocolate lover. They tasted, incidentally, the way ants smell.
Still — Scribbler is willing to bet there will be more insects on plates in the not to distant future. Maybe even on mine.
Have you tried eating or cooking with insects? How did they go down? Or up?