TED Conversations

Patrick Murphy

This conversation is closed.

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/)

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 4 2013: When I was little, somewhere around 6 or 7, the Exploratorium in San Francisco had a special exhibit that featured edible bugs. Maybe it helped a little bit that I was a tom boy but I was super excited to try and eat something that was usually so taboo to ingest.
    All that I remember eating were ants and a scorpion, although I'm sure there were other things to try. And they were good! I think now I would be much more hesitant to try something like that for the first time, as our social values of not eating bugs have been ingrained in me.
    The exhibit was not necessarily a push for people to start eating bugs all the time but it did highlight the fact that in other cultures consuming bugs is quite common. It was a great place and way to introduce to children an alternative to the sigma we have grown up with. I think if we do want to make eating bugs a common thing in society it should definitely start with educating kids about it.

    Here is an article about the exhibit and the man behind it.
    http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Do-You-Want-a-Side-of-Flies-With-That-2940426.php
    • thumb
      Jun 4 2013: Yeah, actually, I had an experience kind of like that, where at a market/faire thing I went to when I was little there was a man who was selling different kinds of roasted bugs, and I think I tried curry crickets or something? They were surprisingly good. I do think that kind of thing brought really good attention and raised awareness to the fact that many cultures regularly eat bugs and that it's a normal thing to do. Which I think is pretty cool.

      Personally, I can't yet see myself eating bugs as a staple of my diet and a main protein source, but I do think it's a good idea in general to start looking at things like eating bugs as an alternative food source, as the current food production methods on this planet are seriously harming the environment. I really agree that introducing kids to bug eating early is going to be key if this is ever going to be a viable option.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.