Farming tropical insects to feed the world in 2050

  256px-Skewered_locusts
  Deep-fried locust kebabs.CC BY 2.0

Many non-western cultures already eat insects [entomophagy]: in Thailand  & China its a common streetfood as you can see in the picture, but its an unusual  and frankly unheard of cuisine in the UK.  AS you will see though, CABI staff have an interest in entomophagy AND we have blogged about global entomophagy before [Roasted grasshopper with a sprinkling of termites].

On 18th November 2015, studio guests, and listeners, of BBC Radio 4 – Midweek were treated to the experience of eating insects as food!  Dr Sarah Beynon, an entomologist was a guest: she is on a mission to both educate the UK public on the importance of insects (including wasps and spiders) and to provide sustainable food by farming tropical insects. 

She had brought in samples of insect protein  which is on the menu at her café, The Grub Kitchen. The café  is the latest venture for her Bugfarm in Wales, which functions as  a research & education centre as well as providing dungbeetles for UK farmers to convert dung into compost! 

Guests sounded wary but chef Michel Roux Jnr pronounced the chocolate cookie made with ground cricket flour, sugar and chocolate, as “very nice” and described it as both chocolatey and having a novel “meaty” taste.  Another description was “marmity”: hardly surprising considering marmite was developed from yeast as an alternative to meat extract. 

Weight for weight, we were told, cricket flour is higher in protein than beef. 

Other delicacies available at the café include grasshoppers (taste like tea), mealworm hummus, and gourmet bug burgers containing mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers. By customer request coming soon will be burgers containing crunchy intact mealworms!

Food security for 2050: using insect protein will take the pressure off agricultural land

“WE need to look at new ways of producing food and we think this [tropical insect farming] is one of the ways of doing it” declared Dr. Beynon.

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Global Meat Production Continues to Rise – Pork and Poultry Meat Are the Most Popular

Pork is still the most popular meat globally, followed closely by poultry meat. Global production of pork in 2011 was 109 million tons, accounting for 37% of the total meat, while poultry meat production reached 101 million tons, according to a recent report from the Worldwatch Institute

These data represent a 0.8% annual decrease in pork production and a 3% annual increase in poultry meat production. If this trend continues poultry meat is likely to become the most-produced meat in the next few years.

Chickens

Production of both beef and sheep meat stagnated at 67 million and 13 million tons, respectively.

Total meat production rose to 297 million tons in 2011 (0.8% annual increase) and is projected to reach 302 million tons by the end of 2012 (1.6% annual increase).

Concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms, account for 72% of poultry production, 55% of pork production and 43% of egg production worldwide.

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