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Patrick Murphy

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Buggin' Out: Urban Bug Farming for the Future

In many cultures eating insects is more than a delicacy – it’s a food staple. However, the use of bugs as a mainstream ingredient is a foreign idea in the developed world. As the human population continues to grow, we have to think about how to feed people. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has shown interest in using insects as an alternative food source. Due to their high concentration of the eight essential amino acids, vitamin B12, riboflavin, vitamin A, amazingly efficient converters that leave a much smaller environmental impact on the planet than cattle.

Once technologies are developed to produce insect-based food ingredients they can be incorporated into numerous food products. They would make great protein substitutes as any food additives to cereal, snack bars, or traditional meals. The high nutritional value, probiotic potential, and affordable price are just a few reasons why many Asian and Latin restaurants already offer insects on their menu.

Rethinking the urban farm and how to deal with the upcoming need to increase food supplies, Claire Lemarchand is planning a series of cricket farms to be placed throughout cities, that go beyond just growing bugs. Crickets are bred in cylindrical units surrounding a light source, to optimize yield, and are fed fresh food waste from the market and surrounding restaurants. While at night, the cricket farming units double as an urban lighting system.

Is urban bug farming a valid food source strategy? What other ideas could be implemented into our food supply networks? Or, could push the boundaries of urban farming and sustainable food sources to better prepare for future food demands?

Why Insects Should Be in Your Diet By Aaron T. Dossey
(http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/34172/title/Why-Insects-Should-Be-in-Your-Diet/)

The Cricket Bigger Than Beef By Claire Lemarchand
(http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/02/27/superbugs-bugs-with-powers/)

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    Jun 4 2013: I've eaten quite a few bugs intentionally and unintentionally, and I think crickets are the best I've had. In class today I was tracing my interest in eating insects, and I think it goes back to the Lion King. I'll bet this clip planted a seed in most of our young brains that insects are cool to eat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqREvb2VTjw
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      Jun 4 2013: Maybe other kids could also be inspired to eat bugs by the Lion King. As others have said, I think the mental block we have developed due to the US culture is the biggest obstacle we face for incorporating insects into our diet. I think that making food products where you can't see/tell that it contains insects would be the most effective way of getting people to eat them (ground up in cereal bars?). I think a lot of clever advertising would need to be done in order to sell such products. Maybe the next popular protein bar could have crickets in it!

      Do you think that the crickets would be a disturbance due to their chirping at night? I don't know if I would want live near the cricket farms/lights...
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        Jun 4 2013: It would be super cool to see a partnership between a major food producer and a large animation company (such as Disney or Pixar) to start working on insect promotion in kids' diets.
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          Jun 4 2013: Yeah! That's definitely along the lines of what I was thinking. If kids saw relatable a human character enjoying eating some delicious bugs, they might be more inclined to eat some as well. The fear of eating bugs is not inherent, so we just have to promote consuming insects before US culture gets to kids. Changing culture is hard!
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        Jun 4 2013: I would love to see cricket protein bars! I think they would be really popular once people saw Brad and Angelina feeding them to their kids.

        I think the fear of eating certain bugs might be inherent. Slimy worms might make me throw up, and hairy spiders give me the heebie jeebies, but crickets and grasshoppers are basically land shrimp. In China it is common to eat scorpions, but of course they remove the stinger. I'd like to try spicy fried scorpion.

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