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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: Personally, i couldn't eat bugs. The very thought of it triggers my gag reflex.

    I am however fine with other people eating bugs. They are a good protein source and could act as a readily available source too.

    Lastly, why do we have a need for high protein sources that animals or insects?
    As far as I am concerned, Tofu is a complete protein and can satiate the growing needs of the world for protein sources and furthermore it would allow the reduction in the amount of last used for other protein sources which aren't plants and therefore waste more energy.
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      Jun 5 2013: Tofu is made out of soy milk and thus soy beans. The production of soy beans globally requires massive amounts of energy due to poor production practices and results in extreme environmental degradation, negative social impacts, and affects human health. Soy is already one of the highest produced crops globally and is a major cash crop. One case study of the affects that soy production has had on an area is Brazil. The Cerrado region lost around 86 thousand square kilometers of native vegetation between 2002 and 2010 due to the production of soy. Also around 586 thousand hectares of the Amazon forest have been cleared to produce soy. Such intense amounts of pesticides are used that a study in Mato Grosso revealed 2 to 6 different pesticides in the milk of breast feeding mothers. Soy production in Brazil has also led to extreme land conflicts with indigenous populations leading to increased suicide, death, and malnutrition. These types of negative affects can be seen in other places that produce soy as a cash crop as well. It's important that we understand the impacts of all the food sources we use.
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        Jun 5 2013: Thank you for bringing up that some of the food sources that we already depend on, are not as beneficial as popular media has made them out to be. Vegetarians tend to use popular media in this way to promote plant diets, even though many of our crops may turn out to be healthier for individuals it is globally damaging the earth to produce these crops. Despite that plants are primary producers and receive and transfer energy best, they heavily rely upon human maintenance. Insects may not be primary producers, but their variable diet allows them to feed on nearly any bio-waste, they use less water and require almost no maintenance. Thanks to the immense biodiversity among insects, different species can be raised in their natural environments, in sustainable ways that benefit the environment.

        Also I actually find tofu disgusting, but have been able to eat it on occasion when cooked in certain ways. The same can be and will be done for bugs when they are introduced into meals. I think this has been one of the bigger problems people have getting over the idea of eating bugs. Even though Simba in the Lion King made it cool to eat bugs they also engrained this idea that they are eaten raw. I don't think that's true about almost any food we eat, and so i would hope that interesting cooking recipes would be created.
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          Jun 5 2013: I am a vegetarian and I eat tofu such as other vegetarians. I think it a great source of protein for those that choose this diet. I certainly do not want to get into a debate on whether meat eaters or vegetarians have more of an impact on the land but I do want to respond. Cattle and other livestock are just as damaging if not more so than soy. We have over 2 billion cattle on this planet filling up land that could be used for crops and producing a ton of methane that is contributing to global warming. Rainforests and other areas have been converted to land for livestock which is destroying biodiversity in these ares. On top of having to have the land to raise the cattle and other livestock we have to feed them as well. About 800 million people could be fed instead of this feed going to livestock.

          With all this said. I definitely eating bugs is a viable and reasonable place to take humans. Being a vegetarian I personally will not partake in the eating of the bugs but I think if we can reduce livestock and return to a more natural system than we have, we could greatly reduce the rapid speed of global warming and decrease so much destruction of the land.
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      Jun 5 2013: Just to comment on the "why do we have a need for high protein sources that animals or insects?" We don't. I am vegan and rarely eat tofu. Yes I do consume some soy products but I try to stay away from them for reasons like Monsanto and the fact that most soy products are highly processed. There are plenty of grains and vegetables that contain high amounts of protein and we do not need to consume animal protein. But if the entire world decided to all the sudden go vegetarian or vegan, we would need a high increase in produce which would take up land, water, and let's face it, chemicals. For future we need to think of some food source that will take up less water and space. Bugs are the prefect compromise. I understand that it can be hard to stomach the idea of eating bugs, cause I am personally not too fond of the idea, but if I were presented with bug tacos, or a bug lasagna I bet it would taste great! And it is all a cultural thing. If we try I bet we can get the idea of eating bugs to be no problem in twenty or thirty years

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