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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: I think my cultural hesitation to eating bugs differs from most people in our class and our country. I can see the potential environmental benefits compared to other forms of meat production, which make a very compelling argument, but I can't help but think about the vast quantities of lives that will be exploited for food. I was raised Buddhist, and thus was taught that all sentient beings are valuable. Though my brother eats meat, he tries to eat beef more often than chicken because one cow can feed more people. The cultural barrier I face stems from the sheer number of bugs that will be raised to be food.

    If the concern is using land more efficiently to feed people, the answer is simple to me: vegetarianism.

    Here's an interesting and short article about different vegan/vegetarian responses to insect eating: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/eating-insects-vegans-and-vegetarians-weigh-in
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      Jun 5 2013: This is a good cultural point I hadn't thought of at all, thanks for sharing that side. However, in the wild, a "natural death" is probably pretty rare for insects, they are primary consumers that countless food webs are built on, so perhaps their value is the nutrition they offer to beings higher up on the food chain.

      Also the level of "sentience" possessed by insects is more comparable to that of a plant than a mammal (plants can respond to stimuli a lot more than some think). To eat anything means extinguishing lives, and i don't know if i think the "soul" of an insect is that much different from that of a veggie, just that insects can move.

      I'm certainly not arguing your views, just sort of pontificating on the matter myself. I suppose this is more of a philosophical, rather than scientific conversation anyway.
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        Jun 5 2013: Hi Ben! I appreciate your response.

        Of course the argument can be made that a natural death would be rare for an insect, or that humans evolved to be omnivores, but my philosophy is that if I can still be healthy (and better to the environment at that) and not eat animals, then I shouldn't.

        Yes, philosophical, but definitely interesting. And on the scientific end of things, there's certainly an argument to be made for straight vegetarianism.

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