To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowInsects
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
Would you eat insects as part of a sustainable, earth-friendly diet?
As the California drought moves into its fourth year, the water shortage is shining a light on our agricultural industry–and the tastes and preferences of the people who drive it. Around the world, as countries’ economies develop and people gain the ability to purchase more expensive food, diets generally change to include more meat. With the global population slated to hit nine billion by the year 2050, and meat consumption increasing steadily around the world, our current land and water resources simply don’t supply enough animal protein to meet the future demand. While some people advocate vegetarianism or eating local to reduce agricultural waste and resource use, some scientists and chefs are suggesting a more extreme solution: eating insects, or “entomophagy.”
Before you gag, chew on this: nearly 80 percent of the global population eats insects as part of their normal diet, and insects are related to delicacies in western cuisine including shrimp, crayfish and lobsters. Insects are incredibly efficient as livestock; they convert a high percentage of their feed into protein, have less waste and consume less water. For example, raising a pound of crickets takes about a gallon of water, compared to the 2,500 gallons that goes into raising one pound of beef. And, less waste means that insects are more friendly for the planet because less waste means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, like methane and carbon dioxide. Depending on the variety, insects are also very nutritious — high in protein, low in fat and loaded with vitamins.
Many folks, though, worry about contamination and the cleanliness of insects in our diet. Insects collected from the wild may be exposed to pesticides and other chemical contaminants, and there are currently no regulations in place in the US to ensure that farmed insects are safe to eat, and little information is available about allergic reactions to insects. Furthermore, encouraging people to gather and eat wild insects comes with similar concerns as other wild edibles like mushrooms: many species may be toxic or venomous, and the resources and cultural know-how does not exist to keep consumers safe. At the same time, the FDA already has rules about how much insect protein is “acceptable” in the food we eat; any food processed in a factory, especially from plants, probably contains small levels of insect protein. (In the U.S., it’s acceptable to have up to 60 parts insect per 100 grams of chocolate — and that limit is for aesthetic, rather than health, reasons!)
What do you think? Would you eat insects as part of a sustainable, earth-friendly diet, or is it just a grub too far? What changes to your diet would you be willing to make?
VIDEO: Edible Insects: Finger Lickin’ Grub (KQED QUEST)
People around the world eat insects. This short video explores who eats what, and why some Americans are working to bring insect snacks into the mainstream.
Alternate video from PBS NewsHour: Incredible, Edible Bugs: Will Meals of Mealworms Catch on in U.S.?
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowInsects
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
VIDEO: Should We Eat Bugs? (TED-Ed)
Need some compelling reasons to consider eating bugs? This short animated video explores the pros and cons of eating bugs, and why some scientists and chefs think we should.
INFOGRAPHIC: Beetlemania: Should We All Be Eating Insects? (The Guardian)
This infographic lays out the nutritional information and the environmental impacts of eating bugs.
AUDIO: Making Food From Flies (It’s Not That Icky) (NPR)
Hear how a company in Ohio turns fly larvae into food for animals and how this could be a step toward finding new sources of food for people.
KQED Education partners with phenomenal organizations to bring you the Science Do Now activities. The Science Do Now is posted every two weeks on Tuesday. This post was contributed by youth volunteers and interns in the Galaxy Explorers program at Chabot Space & Science Center. Explorers share science through live public demonstrations, hands-on activities, and outreach events in their schools and communities. Open to all Bay Area teens, the program focuses on providing support and opportunities in the sciences to Oakland youth historically underrepresented in STEM careers.
Chabot’s mission is to inspire and educate visitors about Planet Earth and the Universe through exhibits, telescope viewing, planetarium shows, interactive programs, and engaging experiences to connect visitors with the earth and environment, astronomy and space travel. Chabot’s education programs promote STEM literacy skills needed for a 21st-century society and workforce.