China’s Maggot Factories: Dinner Is Served
Insects are almost universally considered pests. Some entrepreneurs in China, however, want to turn them into a useful food source.Yes, you heard right. Specifically, these new “maggot factories” are researching ways to mass produce certain insects for human consumption. If that sounds gross to you, you’re probably not alone. But this insect farming idea might not be as crazy as it sounds.
Nutritional Value of InsectsMany insects are actually very nutritionally efficient. They’re very high in minerals and protein, especially while in the larval stage. They provide plenty of quick energy while still being low in fats and sugars. Due to their nutritional capabilities, it’s no surprise that bugs make up such an important part of the food chain. Many other animals have already figured this out and live on bug-only diets.
Insect Consumption Around the WorldIt may sound completely foreign to Western audiences, but having a plate of bugs for dinner was common throughout human history and is still a widespread occurrence today. Here are just a few examples:
- In large swaths of West Africa, termites are gathered and roasted or baked into bread.
- In Japan, sautéed fly larvae are considered a delicacy.
- Bali is famous for dishes that include dragonflies.
- In Latin America, a fried or roasted tarantula is a common snack.
- Agave worms, found in Mexico, are sometimes included with liquors such as mescal or tequila. Consumption is left up to the drinker.
Advantages of Insect FarmingInsects provide as much protein per pound as other meat sources like beef or fish. However, they require much less food and maintenance per pound than larger animals. Not only can they be used to feed people, they can also be used as a healthier feed alternative for other animals like fish.
Insects are capable of being raised almost anywhere and have a relatively small impact on the environment. They don’t require large pastures or intensive medical care like most livestock, and a usually considered to be less of a humane treatment issue.
In addition to providing more food, the research involve with insect farming can also be applied to pest control.