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Are You Eating Bugs? Yes, You Are

Tell all your friends you've been eating down the food chain. Even if you didn't know it.

There's little doubt that consumption of cattle, pigs, chicken, and other livestock comes with considerable environmental cost. But instead of ditching meat altogether, two Dutch researchers have been on a mission to challenge taboos in the developed world by suggesting an environmentally friendly protein alternative: bugs.

Marcel Dicke and Arnold van Huis have already been promoting the consumption of insects in the Netherlands. As they write in the Wall Street Journal:

Over the past two years, three Dutch insect-raising companies, which normally produce feed for animals in zoos, have set up special production lines to raise locusts and mealworms for human consumption. Now those insects are sold, freeze-dried, in two dozen retail food outlets that cater to restaurants.


Insects convert food into meat far more quickly—10 pounds of feed can translate into as much as six pounds of insect meat compared to only about one pound of beef, three pounds of pork, or five pounds of chicken. And their research has shown insect meat comes with considerably lower greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions.

The Dutch perspective adds to the reasons why we should be taking insects seriously as food. First of all, the rest of the world is far less squeamish around eating them, but moreover, canned foods, milled flours, and hundreds of other foods we regularly eat already contain permitted levels of "insect filth." So what do you say? Will you be willingly jumping on the bug-eating bandwagon?

Illustration: John S. Dykes/Wall Street Journal

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