Crickets Alone Will Not Save You, Futurist Foodies

Illustration for article titled Crickets Alone Will Not Save You, Futurist Foodies

Eating bugs is a great idea!” shout future-minded gourmets, the kinds of people who eat waxworm tacos willingly and feed bug cookies to their coworkers. But are insects like crickets and grasshoppers really the solution to our environmental and food-security woes? Well... maybe not. Not entirely, at least.

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At Real Future, Alexis Madrigal reports on recent findings that suggest bugs like “crickets—delicious and efficient though they may be—are not magical creatures, who can simply be swapped into our existing food infrastructure to fix the world’s problems”:

...the Cricket Theory of Food Futures might rest on rather shaky ground, according to a new study in the scientific journal PLoS One. When University of California, Davis researchers Mark Lundy and Michael Parrella tested crickets under different feed and rearing conditions, they found that the massive efficiency (and therefore sustainability) crickets are supposed to deliver didn’t quite materialize.

“Compared to the industrial-scale production of chickens, crickets fed a poultry feed diet showed little improvement in protein conversion efficiency, a key metric in determining the ecological footprint of grain-based livestock protein,” write Lundy and Parrella.

So how do you leverage cricket protein most effectively? Lundy and Parrella have some ideas, and Madrigal has some key observations of his own.

Photo Credit: louis r via flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Contact the author at rtgonzalez@io9.com.

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DISCUSSION

tipsyt-rex
TipsyT-Rex

Question: How many crickets does someone need to eat to be full, let alone get all the nutrition they need?

Because I sell those nasty fuckers, 10¢ each, 1¢/ea discount every 2 dozen, maxing at 6¢, and I’ve kept then as food for my lizard. They’re cannibalistic and smell like a rotten turd. Most feeder bugs aren’t that much better. They require a fairly reasonable amount of food and water too. I kind of wonder if farming insects for people food will end up being all that much better than modern farming in the long run.