Eating insects: a solution to the meat problem?
3rd August, 2010
The world's demand for protein will continue to rise, even as the environmental impacts of meat production become clearer. Could turning to commonly eaten insect species be the answer?
In Mexico, insects have been an integral part of people’s diet for thousands of years. When horses, wolly mammoths, camels, antelopes and other large mammals became extinct in Central Mexico around 7000 BC, people needed another steady source of protein. Insects fit the bill perfectly. The indigenous groups in Mexico had no word specifically for insects, instead referring to them as ‘the meat we eat’.
When Europeans arrived in Mexico, although they deigned to consume certain edible insects, especially during Lent, in general these heavy meat eaters considered eating insects a barbaric, pagan practice and believed that creepy crawlers were the devil’s helpers.
And, yet, a case could easily be made that insects are in fact man’s best friend and that humans couldn’t survive without them. Insects perform many of the basic functions necessary to maintain life on this planet, including recycling dead organic matter, creating topsoil suitable for plant life, and aiding plants in the pollination process.
They also provide a plentiful source of food for animals and even humans. Within central and southern Mexico there are thousands of species of insects, about 500...
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