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We'll Be Eating a Lot More Bugs in the Future
A new web series delves into the many reasons why eating creepy crawlers makes sense for your diet and the environment.
A lot of people around the world eat bugs. Chances are you're not one of them, assuming our analytics are correct. Just the thought of crunching down on a creepy crawler sends shivers through the typical American endoskeleton. Many Westerners think of eating bugs as a gross third-world custom... or just what Anthony Bourdain does when he's on vacation.
But much of what we think we know about insects resides in the realm of myth. They're not unhealthy. They're often quite tasty. They're loaded with the sort of nutritious good stuff dietary professionals love. And sooner or later we're probably going to have to get over our apprehensions and embrace these remarkably efficient sources of protein.
That's according to hosts Craig Benzine and Matt Weber of The Good Stuff, a new web series produced by PBS Digital Studios:
The main argument in favor of bug cuisine (check out the full playlist) is that it's a practical source of protein compared to the inefficient livestock practices to which Westerners are accustomed. As human populations grow worldwide, there becomes a need to expand agriculture. Expanding agriculture threatens the environment and requires the destruction of wild habitats. Just as it makes sense to seek out energy alternatives to oil, it's vital we seek out efficient ways to rededicate our agricultural resources.
For instance, here are some visual examples of why raising crickets for food makes more rational sense than raising cows:
Benzine and Weber note as well that raising a cow requires a lot of time and land — 18-22 months and two acres — whereas raising crickets is a relative breeze. Every six weeks, you can harvest 55-65 pounds of cricket meat from a 4 x 8-foot pen. That means less pollution and less space needed for agricultural expansion. World population will reach 10 billion near the end of the century; we can't all be eating chicken, beef, and tofu by then. This is what makes bugs so appealing for the long-term.
Yet despite these reasonable arguments, it's unlikely you'll find crickets on the menu at T.G.I. Fridays anytime soon. We have culture to thank for that. Where bugs are a staple of many African and Asian diets, Eurocentric cultures prefer to eat other disgusting animals like lobster, "the cockroach of the ocean." That we're okay with eating lobster and not bugs isn't because one is less gross than the other, but mostly because (as unsatisfying as this is for an answer) that's just the way it is.
Sooner or later though it'll be in our best interest to diversify our protein sources, and bugs make a lot of sense.
Below, dietary secrets from around the world from explorer Dan Buettner.
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.