Updated: Jun 28, 2022
Sustainable food is something that’s been talked about a lot lately. Consuming local and seasonal food, particularly the sustainable protein is the new in.
Predictions indicate that the global population will hit a record high of 8.5 billion by 2030. This will mean an increased demand for food, which inturn will strain the already depleting agro-system globally.
Insect Feed Technologies Black Soldier Fly Dried Larvae
The decreasing arable land, forests, water, and marine life has promoted insect farming as a vital part of food generation. Insects can be farmed for various uses. Some can be consumed by humans for food while others can be consumed by animals. Some insects can also produce valuable items like silk or dies. Some of the insects that are being farmed all over the world include mealworms, crickets, black soldier flies, beetle larvae, and caterpillars.
Let’s check out the are 3 ways insect farming is transforming the world.
1. Insect Farming for Food Security
Food insecurity is an urgent affair. Estimates show that nearly 49 million people are affected by famine. The new source of food in the form of insects is combating the issue of food scarcity.
Insect farming is now experiencing a rapid annual growth rate of almost 27.8%. The reason is simple, insects are sustainable alternatives to conventional protein sources for human consumption. Insects like crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms are rich in proteins and are also excellent sources of minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper. A few examples of insect food products that are sold include cricket flour and nutritional bars.
Most people are grossed out at the mention of eating bugs. However, eating insects is common in various parts of the world. Resources entails that more than two billion people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America eat insects. In Asia, you can buy seasoned scorpions and crickets from the local markets. Currently, insects sold for human consumption are either available whole or as powdered additives.
2. Climate Change Mitigation
Livestock production has been attributed to the release of more than 14.5% of global greenhouse gasses. For a long time, there has been an urgent need to find substitutes for conventional meat products. Insect breeding for human consumption has been recommended by many experts as a sustainable answer to the challenge of climate change.
Protein in animal feed is mostly plant-based, mainly soy. And, it’s important to know and understand how soy is causing a huge environmental crisis. It's an unsustainable source of protein that is produced by clearing the forests and creating the empty land areas for cultivation.
By using insects as animal feeds, reliance on soy can be used. Insects have been shown to be efficient sources of proteins as they contain 10-35% of protein. Insects also emit less greenhouse gasses as compared to cattle or pigs. They also require only a fraction of land and water to be produced.
For the production of a pound of crickets, you need just a gallon of water. On the other hand, you will require more than 500 gallons of water to produce one pound of chicken, and more than 2000 gallons for a single pound of beef. Substituting traditional meat sources with insects can greatly reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses.
In most of the developing nations, the black soldier fly is fed with human waste and it produces excellent fertilisers. Moreover, the flies are a good source of food for animals. This solves a huge sanitation challenge that could lead to water pollution in these countries.
3. Feed Conversion
A third of all food production is thrown away by people every year. Countries all over the world are running out of ways of disposing of this waste. Black soldier flies are the answer to this problem. Their larvae break down the organic matter present in food waste and they grow to 1000 times their size. The larvae can be fed to poultry, fish, and pigs.
Therefore, insect farms use black soldier flies to convert food waste from industries and farms into protein feed that can be fed to chicken, pigs, and fish. The food waste that can be consumed by these insects includes fruits, vegetables, and coffee grounds.
Let’s face it, the production of meat for human consumption is causing a great environmental challenge. Cows, pigs, and poultry are definitely a great source of meat; however, they serve as the biggest sources of carbon dioxide too which is responsible for global warming. Replacing meat with protein-packed insects can be one way to reduce emissions due to animal production. Insects can also be used to consume biological waste such as food waste. The larvae can then be used as feed supplements for livestock, birds, and fish for decades. That’s an incredible alternative to soy or fish meal.