In the rush of student life, we often opt for quick and cheap protein sources to get a proper protein intake. However, farm-raised meats use an incredible amount of resources and produce 30-45 percent of the earth’s greenhouse methane.
We must find an alternative sustainable and cheap way to meet our protein needs. To do so, we should all start replacing some of the meat in our diets with insects.
Crickets and other insects have been a food source all around the globe for centuries. It is estimated that two billion people around the world eat insects as part of their everyday diet. For example, bars in Thailand will sell you beer and serve you a bowl of fried insects as if they were a bowl of peanuts.
It makes sense, as insects have high protein yield and are packed with nutrients. Some species of crickets have just as much Omega-3 fatty acids as fish, along with numerous amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Although this trend is slowly creeping its way into America, insects should be seen as more than just an occasional nutritious snack. According to Dr. Marianne Shockley, an entomology professor at UGA, we must replace insects with other typical protein sources to help the planet.
“You can get a cricket that’s ready to harvest in six weeks versus a large domesticated animal that may take five-plus years,” Shockley said. “So if you think about the amount of waste, water and the sheer space in those production systems, [insect protein] is a great option.”
Cricket production uses 12 times less feed input and 66 times less water than beef production. Cricket farming also produces less greenhouse emissions and requires no clearing of land to increase in scale. They also do not need hormones or antibiotics to keep them alive during farming, so all of the food produced is organic.
Finding appealing ways to eat may seem difficult, but Shockley provided practical means of growing edible insects.
“People can grow and harvest crickets in their homes, their garages. It really can be an urban, sustainable protein source,” Shockley said.
An edible insect startup has even jumped into Athens. Founded by Dr. Aaron Dossey, All Things Bugs LLC produces a milled cricket powder with a “light color and mild aroma and flavor.”
The milled cricket flour can be used in a variety of recipes. Customers have used it to make curry, banana bread, mug cakes and even taco meat. And, of course, it can be put into smoothies for an added dose of protein.
So if you want to save money and the environment, buy insect protein instead of livestock. It’s cheaper, more sustainable and all around better for you. It is the future of food.