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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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    Mario R

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    Jun 4 2013: While bug farming does seem like a promising relief to the heavy demand placed on livestock protein sources, I can't help but think of the effect that this might have on the safety of consuming insects. For example, countries in South East Asia have been known to abstain from consuming due to evidence of pesticides in the insects. Are there ways we could make certain that insects being reared for consumption do not come into contact with pesticides? If not, are there safe levels of pesticide consumption or should insects that have come into contact with pesticides be avoided altogether?

    Although I do see the benefits of consuming insects, and I think they are indeed a valuable alternative, we also need to think about the consequences of entomophagy. What kind of problems might be posed by the over breeding of some insects? Could they potentially escape their farm and have drastic negative effects on neighboring communities of insects or crops? If entomophagy were to become globally practiced, would demand strain rarer species of bugs leading to possible extinction of exotic bug species?

    Another question I had is what kind of shelf life do insects have? Are they even a conceivable introduction into western culture where we demand convenience over freshness? At what point do bacteria start to grow in postmortem insects making them unfit for consumption? I found an article that discussed preservation methods for insects, but they still found some bacteria that could grow in the insects even with discussed preservation methods.

    As people have already discussed, cultural barriers are huge in establishing an insect farming industry. However, I believe that we need to look at addressing often overlooked problems that might arise from insect farming.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512000874

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1466856412001452
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      Jun 5 2013: I have been wondering that same thing with pesticides, because it seems to be one of the larger issues with eating bugs. However, I feel like enclosed farms, similar to what can be seen at the Zebrafish International Research Center, would make farming bugs much more feasible, pesticide-free, and have a very low level of escapement.

      There are a lot of questions about how a cultural change such as this might begin to affect the biodiversity of lands that begin to farm them. However, because of the immense number of insect species, I feel that we would not be able to alter the global insect biodiversity by enough compared to what it will save in flora and other fauna species.

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