Saturday, December 18, 2010

TED: "We Should Eat Insects"

Posted By on Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 6:00 AM

Marcel Dicke, a presenter at TED, argues that the world as we know it is not run by humans but by insects. (TED is a conference held in Palm Springs and Oxford each year that hosts highly intelligent folks “giving the speech of their life in 18 minutes” and having “Ideas worth sharing”.)

Insects process our waste and add minerals to the dirt that we grow our food in. The whole life cycle of the planet is dependent upon insects.

And with our planet's growing human population we are facing a potential food crisis. We have a finite amount of land in which to grow food and our population seems to be growing faster than our production methods. Soon we are gong to be forced to make some hard decisions.

Dicke proposes that to solve the food problem, we should all start eating insects. I am not entirely opposed because chocolate-covered insects taste fantastic. The savory application of insects is a different story. I have eaten grasshoppers in curry and I did not love it. The texture of a dried bug is not unlike a crunchy Cheeto.

Most of us are actually eating a lot more insects than we care to admit in the form of shrimp, lobster and crab. They are just the bugs of the sea, not the bugs of the land. The average American eats nearly 9 pounds of shrimp each year and most consider it a delicacy. On the other hand eating 9 pounds of cockroaches a year sounds like a bad episode of Survivor. But they are, basically, the same thing.

The best case for eating insects given by Dicke is the conversion ratio. It takes a cow, which is delicious, roughly 9 pounds of food to make one pound of meat. The rest is crap, literally. Insects on the other hand, have an almost 1:1 conversion ratio of food. They grow almost as much as you feed them. Logistically, it makes more sense to eat insects. I just don't want to.

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