Insects: A Climate Change solution?

Too cute to eat?

One UW-Madison grad student was not just driven buggy by the climate change crisis, she was driven to bugs for a solution. My interview with Valerie Stull about her and Rachel Bergmann’s mighty MIGHTi project (Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects)aired on WORT-FM March 17, 2015. Their unconventional idea brings a small solution – insects – to help with two big problems: hunger and climate change. As Stull explains, meal worms provide a highly efficient source of edible protein requiring 1/5th the feed per pound than beef. Additionally, meal worms produce none of the potent green house gas methane that beef cattle does.  Listen here (about 4 minutes).

By Mnolf (Photo taken in Rum, Tirol, Austria) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Larvae of the meal worm beetle (Tenebrio molitor), before (dark) and after skinning (light)
How does raising meal worms and other insects equal a “win-win-win?” In their own words,

“Insects can feed people, serve as an inexpensive feed source for poultry as well as fish, and are relatively easy to raise. Farming insects is also climate smart, as they require less energy to produce and emit fewer greenhouse gases than other livestock. They can even recycle agricultural waste products, not edible for people. In areas where food is not always available and protein sources are scarce, insect farming offers an inexpensive, environmentally friendly option. (1)

What creative problem-solving!  UW Madison’s Climate Quest competition awarded Stull and Bergmann top prize for their project’s creative potential to impact climate change in 2015. It may even have more potential than those of us acculturated  in the industrialized west may give it credit for.

In case you’re still skeptical about eating bugs, remember that John the Baptist did just fine on a diet of locusts and honey (Mark 1:6 ; Matthew 3:4 ).  For more examples of insect eating (called “entomophagy”) throughout history, check out National Geographic’s “Bugs As Food: Humans Bite Back” and“For Most People, Eating Bugs is only Natural”.

(a version of this post by Kermit Hovey originally appeared at www.climatechangehope.wordpress.com )