Eating Insects Could Reduce Greenhouse Gases

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But are you willing to nosh on bugs to better the environment?

Maybe—maybe—you ate bugs when you were a child playing in your parents' yard. And then you grew up, and realized that biting off a creepy crawler's body was no longer your idea of entertainment, let alone proper cuisine. But a group of scientists would have you return to those good old days when eating bugs was an appealing prospect. Here's why.

 

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Scotland's Rural College say that if we could swap out half of our meat intake with plates of crickets and mealworms, we could seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, as a result, slow climate change. In fact, reducing the beef, chicken, and pork we eat by 50 percent could cut the use of farmland around the world by a whopping one-third, which is nothing to sneeze at, the researchers say.

According to lead researcher Peter Alexander, combining an insect-friendly diet with other changes in consumer behavior—such as beating back food waste—would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create land savings and a more sustainable food system.

The researchers suggested that insects could be added to our prepackaged food. (Can you picture boxed macaroni-and-cheese with dried crickets, or frozen mushrooms stuffed with mozzarella and mealworm?) But they aren't purely bug focused: the researchers also say that we can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by including more imitation meat, such as tofu, into our diets, because those foods require significantly less energy and land to produce.

How much land are we talking? Noshing on insects and imitation meat could "free up" some 1,680 million hectares of land, the researchers say. (That's about the size of the U.K.)

Of course, eating insects is common in non-Western cultures around the world and has just recently become the subject of fine dining thanks to Rene Redzepi's Noma pop-up in Tulum, Mexico.

But if you're not ready to bite into a bug in the name of saving the environment, the researchers offered another option: almost as much land could be saved if farmers were willing to feed livestock a chicken and egg-heavy diet. Um, here's hoping the world's cows and pigs eat differently before we do.

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