Turns Out It's Kinda Arbitrary Which Animals We Eat When You Think About It

Admittedly, this guy's diet advice sounded totally gross to me the first time I heard it. The second time, however ... it still sounded totally gross. That said, he's probably right (no matter how much I wish he wasn't).

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Narrator: Many people find the very thought of insects disgusting especially when they're in your mouth. But have you ever considered that insects could be more nutritious, environmentally friendly, and abundant than most other foods? Should we all be eating insects? Compare 100 grams of crickets to 100 grams of chicken, beef or pork, and you'll find that have that they have comparable protein content, but crickets are much higher in essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, zinc, and iron. Similarly, insects like mill worms are low in fat and contain large amounts of fiber.

But that's not the only reason to incorporate them into your diet. Currently, there are 1.53 billion hectares of cropland and 3.38 billion hectares of pastures covering our earth. Essentially, 38% of the land you see on a map is used for agriculture and farming. But while it takes 200 square meters of land to grow one pound of beef, it only takes 15 square meters to grow one pound of crickets. Furthermore, by 2025, it's expected that 1.8 billion people will live in areas with little to no fresh water, and yet 70 percent of our freshwater sources are used in agriculture alone.

To produce one kilogram of beef, it takes 22,000 liters of water, whereas one kilogram of pork takes 3,500 liters, and one kilogram of chicken takes 2,300 liters. But to make one kilogram of crickets, it only requires one liter of water. This is because insects can become fully hydrated just from the food that they eat. They are also more digestible. In fact, 80% of our cricket is edible and digestible compared to 50 percent of a chicken and 40 percent of cattle. And it's like not our mouths have never tasted insects before. For every 100 grams of spinach, 50 small insects like aphids, thrips, and mites are permitted. Peanut butter is allowed to contain roughly 30 insect fragments such as heads, bodies, or legs per 100 grams, and even the hops used to make your favorite beer can contain 250 aphids per 100 grams. Yep, your summer beer may be spiked with a little more bug juice than you anticipated. So why aren't we eating insects? They're actually consumed in some parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

In fact, the capital of Congo has households eating 300 grams of caterpillars a week, which is 96 tons of caterpillars every year. But much of the western world is used to screaming in disgust if they find a bug in their salad. This maybe because western culinary traditions have spun out of colder climates with less insects, increased farming, and larger animals to eat. And as Europeans began to colonize the world, they contextualized bug eating as savage and primitive because they observed to many indigenous people doing it. Little did they know bugs are actually extremely nutritious. But while the idea of eating insects may literally be hard to swallow, as recipes are created, insect-processing food technology evolves, and our mindsets adapt, maybe insects will become the super food of the future. Look out Greek yogurt and kale, there are some new kids in town. We actually challenged ourselves to trump down on some bugs, try out a few recipes, and eat things like cookies and snack bars using insect flour in our latest case ASAP Thought video. We also discussed the role and potential for insects in helping to solve world's hunger. Make sure to click the screen or the link in the description below to check it out and subscribe for more weekly science videos.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

The entertaining and informative video you just watched was created and posted by the folks at AsapSCIENCE. They are on Facebook and Twitter, and more of their stuff is here, here, here, here, and here. And for those of you who are now wondering, "Well, yeah, sure, good idea in theory, but how do I actually eat bugs?" here's how you actually eat bugs. Thumbnail image posted by Flickr user Leonid Mamchenkov, used under a Creative Commons license.

Jul 04, 2014

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