TED Conversations

Patrick Murphy

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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/)

+3
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 4 2013: I think this is a great idea and, being in America during our social media era, all a topic like this needs is some sort of social media trend for it to take off. Think about the organic era that started about five or so years ago, a small community of people started out eating organically or "green" until it became a national trend in which now there are entire grocery/food supply stores dedicated to eating organically. Because eating insects, as the two sources you provided stated, can have extremely healthy benefits including high-protein and low fat potentials for humans if consumed, I think if some small community (espcially a if it were the younger generation) began experimenting with eating insects and started seeing positive outcomes, this is something I could definitely see the United States taken part in. The only question is if there are enough people out there to be brave enough to take part in this idea, and, whether or not it would become widely available or not.

    Also, like most organisms within the animal kingdom during this century, there is concern about the loss/extinction of insect species due to many things (mostly human activity). Knowing how important insects are to the over food chain (without thinking about us humans starting to munch on them), biodiversity, and ecosystem health across the world, if humans began eating insects regularly and there becomes a demand for a stable healthy insect population, using societies consumeristic and demand habits, it could be beneficial for insect population stability, and indirectly ecosystem health, and overall environmental biodiversty. Let's us our selfish needs in a reverse psychology way to save the planet!

    Heres a popular media website on endangerment to insects: http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/insects5.html

    Also, heres an article about the high protein/low fat potential when eating insects:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/u-n-eat-bugs-good-good-world-article-1.1342532
    • thumb
      Jun 5 2013: I agree John, this is a great idea! Growing up in Germany in the 50’s I learned a lot about hard times, and a lot about what bugs tasted the best! LOL! I think that other posters are right when they say that Americans probably won't like the idea of eating bugs at first. Maybe we could start off with using the bugs to feed people who otherwise can’t afford good protein like beef or chicken. In fact, I see these urban bug farms as a way to eliminate the homeless problem in cities too! The homeless people could live and work on the farms where they would be provided with payment in the form of shelter and food, all while showing people that bugs are safe to eat, and tasty too!
      I can tell you from experience that bugs taste just like fried chicken, so I’m sure that most of the homeless people in my city would just love to eat them! LOL!

      God Bless

      -Todd C.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.