Sustainability

Understanding our World Population

For those, who have watched Leonardo Dicaprio's documentary on climate change, these news should not be new. For those who didn't know yet: Our population is growing at a rate that our world can no longer withstand. The total population is projected to increase by more than one billion people within the next 15 years, reaching 8.5 billion in 2030, and to increase further to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100 (1). 

To feed all these people our production of food will need to more than double! Oceans are overfished, land is scarce due to an extensive agriculture for animal feed production, and climate change (with related water shortages) will have profound implications for our food production (2).

It is now that we need to address the challenges of today, especially considering that more than 1 billion people are chronically hungry worldwide. What we eat needs to be re-evaluated, inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We therefore need to find new ways to feed our growing population.

There is tradition in entomophagy

Insects have always been a part of human diets, in fact, 80% of our total population regularly consumes insects as valuable and highly nutritious food. Insects offer a significant opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern science in both developed and developing countries. In the past, crickets were simply gathered form the forests or fields. Today, automated technology is being developed to ecologically and efficiently grow insects - a solution which could be implemented into both developed and developing countries to relief hunger.

Why Crickets?

Crickets require only 2 kilograms of feed for every 1 kilogram of bodyweight gain. This means there are efficient at converting feed to usable meat. In comparison to other meats: they are 12 times more efficient at converting 12 times more efficient in converting feed to meat than cattle, 4 times more efficient than pigs, and 2 times more efficient than chicken.

In addition, insects are reported to emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia than cattle or pigs. In fact, they emit 80% less methane than cattle. Moreover, crickets require significantly less land and water than cattle rearing. This is because insects are poikilothermal, which means that they don't need energy to maintain their body temperature. This in return means that they can invest all the energy they get from their feed into their growth. Cattle, pigs and other animals need to invest much more energy into maintaining their body temperature and are not so efficient in bodily growth.

If you want to read up in more detail on the benefits of cricket farming, or generally insect farming, go to check my references below. I would especially recommend the article by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which is very extensive and easily understandable.

(1) DESA (2015): World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.241. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.

(2)FAO (2013): Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, 2013.