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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 5 2013: Many people don't realize that we actually eat bugs a lot. Up until last year Starbucks used ground up cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) to add color to their strawberry flavored frapacchinos and their red velvet whoopie pies, you know, so they wouldn't have to use artificial flavor or dye. Even the FDA allows for a certain amount of insect parts in our food, Pasta can contain up to 225 various insect parts while raisins can have up to 33 fruit fly eggs. On average we probably consume between 1 to 2 pounds of various bugs each year. Even though bugs may be considered a staple food in other countries, I don't know how it will be considered here in the US. There are some chefs that are trying to integrate bugs into their menus, and I imagine that eventually there will be a Top Chef competition with bugs, eventually. Bugs are high in vitamins and healthy minerals that our bodies need, and since they are very far away from us genetically we don't really have to worry about certain diseases like Mad Cow coming from them. I think this will all be cultural, maybe not our generation, or our kids. But eventually I could see a more socially acceptable view on eating bugs.

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      Jun 5 2013: This is an interesting point and something that I thought might work as part of the solution to our food and energy problem. It seems that the main problem preventing us from more effectively utilizing bugs as a food source is the disgust for them. This could even be an evolutionary driven response to bugs which can often be poisonous or carrying parasites. I'm not sure that many people would be able to just get over their fear of eating bugs but if we harvest them for nutrients for use as ingredients in other foods a lot more people would be willing to eat some bugs.

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