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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

The Cricket Bigger Than Beef By Claire Lemarchand


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  • Jun 4 2013: We already cant feed the population as it is. 1 billion people are chronically hungry and by 2050 the populations is expected to gain another 2 billion, almost certainly adding to the list of those hungry. According to a report “Edible Insects” put out by the U.N., expanding land to use for farming is scarce, the oceans are over fished and climate change will affect many aspects of food production. These facts, along with the expanding population lead the U.N. to the conclusion that “we need to find new ways of growing food.” Which I agree with. In the U.N.’s very long and detailed report about eating insects they outline ways to process food (insects) for feed and consumption, farming insects, the nutritional value of insects, food safety and preservation, the economics of farming and eating insets, among other aspects of the issue. This seems to be very thought out and undoubtedly more should be done to look into it, as well as other ideas. As far as fixing the problem that is at hand and that will only become more blaring as time comes, I do not think it is a fix but more a step in the right direction.

    Link to the U.N. report is below. Sites good research articles.

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      Jun 4 2013: Insect farming doesn't seem like it would be an effective solution to the food crisis that we are going to be facing but i think it's an underestimated strategy. There have been some statistics arising about the economic value of bug farming, in southern Africa 10 billion caterpillars are harvested a year worth an estimated $85 million dollars. New strategies for harvesting bugs could be implemented to bring these businesses into America if the demand becomes present. Even experts admit that it might be hard to get westerners used to the idea of eating bugs, but the possibility of processing bugs could be a method to get us to eat them. If we do not recognize the food as bugs, we might be more okay with with the idea, such as with processed meat in hot dogs, or protein enriched supplements or grains.

      • Jun 4 2013: I agree that it probably won't be a solution. However thats very interesting they could be so profitable, I had no idea. Completely agree that westerners will have a hard time getting used to the idea of eating bugs. I think if the demand does become present Americans will definitely become interested, especially if there is a lot of money to be made. At least in the production of insects. Possibly through that the stigma surrounding them would lessen.

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