We all know that farmers globally (not just in Colorado) are coming under increasing pressure to feed more mouths. However trying to increase crops and yields whilst some extreme weather events like the droughts we’ve experienced is not easy. Even when the weather is fine, farmers are also having to cut back on chemicals and pesticides which also help increase the crops and livestock they are able to produce. So although the latest statement from the UN might sound a little off beat there is a lot of sense to it.
They have suggested that one of the real saviours in mankinds fight against global warming, pollution and also supporting a global food supply are insects. There are many edible insects which can provide a low fat and high protein food for people, livestock and even our pets.
There are lots of obvious benefits – cultivating this food source will reduce global emissions greatly, there is little of the livestock pollution that comes with traditional food sources like beef, lamb and pork. There are already about two billion people who already regularly eat insects as part of their daily lives. There are some very real health benefits too, including insects in your diet.
You may already be eating a few, as insects are used in natural food colours in things like drinks and yoghurts. Although this is not widespread in the Western world – the trend is definitely increasing. Some insects for example ants, grasshoppers and beetles offer very similar protein levels as lean ground beef, with the added benefit of having much less fat in them.
There are huge economic benefits as well as environmental ones to producing insects as a food source. Take for instance the return of foodstuffs – an insect returns 1 kg of edible meat for every 2kg of foodstuffs used. Compare this with cattle where you would need to input 8kgs of foodstuff to produce a single kg of edible meat.
For the developing world it also represents a real economic opportunity. As yet there is little need for the high cost investments needed in tradition livestock farming. Insect farming can be conducted successfully on a relatively small scale offering the chance for smaller, niche farmers a realistic livelihood. There are also huge areas of the planet which can easily support the farming of insects where livestock wouldn’t even survive.
The world of farming is changing at a rapid pace, environmental and economic factors are making our current methods look unviable. It’s becoming increasingly important for farmers and anyone associated with agriculture to keep up to date with such developments. I can suggest the BBC News site based in the UK as a great way of keeping up to date – here’s a piece on the UN statement. If you need to access the videos and documentaries you’ll need this site to help –http://iplayerusa.org/ bypass the blocks on a Non-British IP address.
More information on this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYIBhs1nSTk