Published in El Pais, May 4th 2019.
One of the questions that always went through the heads of economists is: how can we give food to everyone? The economist Thomas Malthus (1878) indicated that one day we would run out of food and we would have great social problems including wars because of the size of the population. Now, we all know that it has not been so serious, at least until now.
However, with the world economic development, many of us will be able to buy and get a menu with more beef, chicken or pork. And the question is to see if it is possible to produce this amount of meat with the available resources. If producing 1 kg of beef costs 15,415 liters of water and 6 kg of some crop; producing 1 kg of pork costs 6,000 liters of water, this can be a big problem when we want to produce meat in a sustainable way for everyone, without water and other crops becoming scarce. In contrast, producing 1 kg of grasshoppers full of proteins requires only 8 liters of water.
At this moment, more or less 10% of the world population eats bugs, it is called entomophagy. Meat proteins are necessary for humans and replacing them with a vegetarian diet is not easy. Then, eating bugs, can be a good source of proteins necessary for the human race to survive and save water as well. Around the world we consume almost 340 million tons of meat per year. The amount of water needed to produce this meat is equivalent to more than 8 years of water use for the 7.7 billion people in the world!
Maybe one, including me, could not imagine eating a larva, a grasshopper or something like that. This, simply because we are accustomed eating also with the eyes. The food must have a very rich appearance, if not, our brain automatically tells us that it must be ugly. Some producers in the world of carnivores have started creating bugs flour and from this they have created sausages: delicious! And this is just the beginning. Maybe the meat industry sees all this as a threat, but I’m sure that creative and progressive entrepreneurs see it as a great opportunity.
I do not think meat will disappear, but I do believe that bugs are going to be a part of our menu in the near future.