Super Science May 2011 Eat this : Page 3
g n i t a E n Ca It’s possible! Insect chef David George Gordon explains how. speaking, if people ate insects instead of cows (think beef and steak), pigs (ham and bacon), and other barnyard animals. Before you bug out, consider this: A serving of grasshoppers contains nearly the same amount of protein as a ham-burger. In fact, many species of E For a video on insects, go to www.scholastic.com/superscience ven the most adventurous eaters might think twice before swallowing a grasshopper. But what if insect-eating was good for the environment? Would you be brave enough to give it a try? A team of Dutch scientists believes that the world would be better off, environmentally protein —a substance that is an important building block of many cells and is a necessary part of a healthy diet greenhouse gas —gases that trap heat inside Earth’s atmosphere emission —matter that is released from something, like exhaust from a car’s tailpipe edible —the condition of being safe to eat MA Y 2 0 1 1 13
Can Eating Bugs Save The Planet?
David George Gordon
It’s possible!Insect chef David George Gordon explains how.<br /> <br /> Even the most adventurous eaters might think twice before swallowing a grasshopper. But what if insect-eating was good for the environment? Would you be brave enough to give it a try?<br /> <br /> A team of Dutch scientists believes that the world would be better off, environmentally Speaking, if people ate insects instead of cows (think beef and steak), pigs (ham and bacon), and other barnyard animals.Before you bug out, consider this: A serving of grasshoppers contains nearly the same amount of protein as a hamburger.In fact, many species of Insects are very nutritious. But what makes a squirmy supper the eco-friendly choice?<br /> <br /> Not-So-Green Gas<br /> <br /> Most scientists believe that the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is causing a gradual warming of Earth’s temperature. This is called global climate change.<br /> <br /> Many people know that “green” choices like recycling and saving energy can help the environment by lowering greenhouse- gas emissions. But you may not know that our food choices can play a role too. When a cow or pig burps or passes gas, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas. Every day each cow on Earth pumps out about 40 gallons of methane. That means, an estimated 18 percent of greenhouse gas output can be traced to livestock. That’s a bigger share than from all the world’s cars and trucks combined!<br /> <br /> To see how insects compare, the Dutch scientists measured the volume of greenhouse gas produced by farm-raised livestock. They compared that with the volume produced by several types of edible insects. The insects gave off much lower amounts of greenhouse gases than cattle, the team found.<br /> <br /> Water Savers<br /> <br /> Insects have cows beat in other eco-areas as well—especially water conservation. One sixth of the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water. Yet while many people are thirsty, a large amount of this resource goes to cattle for beef production. Each day, the average cow guzzles 25 to 50 gallons of water. Compare that with some insects, like mealworms, which can grow to adulthood without a single sip. They get all the moisture they need from the few molecules of water in their food.<br /> <br /> Culture Clash<br /> <br /> Because of insects’ many benefits, an office of the United Nations (UN) is working to promote insect-eating worldwide. Buggy cuisine is already common in many Asian, African, and Latin American countries. But many people in the U.S. and Europe have trouble stomaching the idea.<br /> <br /> Two years ago, insect-chef Dave Gracer traveled to Thailand for a UN-sponsored conference on edible insects. He returned home to Providence, Rhode Island, convinced that insects were the food of the future. But he discovered that most of his neighbors weren’t up for eating insects, even those that are considered treats in foreign lands.<br /> <br /> “People’s food habits are very hard to change,” says Gracer.“We tend to favor the foods we grew up on. We’re suspicious of unfamiliar items on our plates.”<br /> <br /> Pass the Bugs, Please<br /> <br /> Florence Dunkel, an insect scientist at Montana State University, hopes that insecteating will eventually become more accepted. There’s strong evidence that people in Europe and the Middle East routinely ate insects long ago, she says.For some unknown reason, their attitudes changed over time.<br /> <br /> “Regardless of why we turned away, it appears that we are slowly returning to the idea of insects as human food,” Dunkel says. She has observed That insect festivals at universities and science museums are quickly growing in popularity. Edible-insect treats often are the highlight of these gatherings.<br /> <br /> Who wouldn’t want a mealworm quiche or chocolate “chirp” cookies made with oven-baked crickets? They’re good for the Earth, good for your body, and you just might think they’re delicious!
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