ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Edible Insects - The Future of Food

Updated on March 13, 2018

The population is growing, our farmland is decreasing, yet the size of the planet remains the same. With things going the way they are then how do we intend to survive into the future as a species as our means of food management continue to be depleted?

The answer may send your stomach galloping, but the answer is quite simple: edible insects. Everyday, around the globe, commercial and independent farmers alike are fighting to develop innovative ways to reduce growing space and still produce nutritious sustenance to feed the masses.

The news of resorting to insects really isn't anything new at all. There are restaurants that have been serving dishes, if not the entire menu, based around insects for some time now. Whether it's suppose to be viewed as “exotic” or they serve with a purpose is another matter.

Truth is, depending on insects as a food stuff goes back further than written history can tell. And, as you may or may not know, many cultures around the world still use insects as a food source on a daily basis! So the news shouldn't come too shockingly to many.

But, sooner or later, eating bugs isn't going to be some far away or exotic thing. Oh, no! We can count on it becoming rather commonplace, indeed, a staple in our diet. And there's good reason for that. Let's take a look at the facts:

The United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that by the year 2050 the world's population will reach around nine billion people. That's a lot of mouths to feed, and feeding them isn't going to be easy if we only look to continue farming as we are currently. So, with fruit and vegetable crops aside, let's talk protein for a second . . . .

Not counting the over fished oceans, nor the tens and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland are being lost every year to development for residential housing and businesses, finding room to raise foul, pork, sheep, and beef is a problem that isn't being properly addressed to the general public.

Remember, you're roughly looking at a needed four acres of land per head of grazing cattle, and with no land for them to be on, the average consumer's source of protein is either going to be scarce (and very expensive) or eventually a thing of the past.

The problem with this is the obvious fact that feeding a grass feeding animal bugs is going against their natural diet; causing disruption within the animal's digestive system. Cows are fed corn to more quickly fatten them up, but, as innocent as this may seem, cows eating a lot of corn can cause several problems that may even lead to it's death.

Now, moving on, think about how much beef (if you're a meat eater) you consume during the year. Now consider the amount that's being consumed in your neighborhood in the same time frame. Now your city and county. The state. How much in the whole of the country? Worldwide? Not hard to do the math to see the numbers are staggering, is it?

Of course, things are only going to get worse when you look past 2050; more and more people . . . less and less farmland. Even if you take everyone globally living in 20 to 50 square feet of living space, which is the norm in some places already, it's not difficult to see how this is going to cause problems.

The solution, one may ask? Entomophagy! . . . which is the consumption of insects as a safe food source.

There are an upwards of 10 million species of insects in the world today with new ones being discovered each year. But not all of them are fit for consumption. And of those that are (more than 1,900 varieties), I'm sure it's fair to say, not all of them taste good.

But what about those that are easier on the pallet? Well, those little guys are being considered for mass production if not in production already; i.e. China's maggot farms. The FAO put out a PDF report in 2013 (Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security) that reads specifically on using insects for dietary purposes and even encourages people to try them!

Although there are insects (either cooked or raw) that can be eaten individually, or by the handfuls, as snacks or as part of a meal, there is a much bigger and broader concentration on using them for human and animal consumption: the use of insects as a flour or meal.

But, before we get into that, let's take a look at some of the most popular bugs people are chowing down on:

  • Stinkbugs

  • Red Agave Worms

  • Mealworms

  • Grub Worms

  • Flies

  • Maggots

  • Waterboatmen and Backswimmers (and their eggs)

  • Locusts

  • Grasshoppers

  • Crickets

  • Ants

  • Termites

  • Tree Worm

  • Beetles (rhinoceros, june, long-horned, and dung beetles mostly)

  • Moths and Butterflies

  • Wasps and Bees (lest we forget the bees still in development within the hive cells)

  • Mosquitoes

  • And we can't leave out the arachnids: scorpions, spiders and tarantulas

And that's just to name a few! Further reading on more specific edible insects in various regions of the world can be found here and here.

But it must be said, that even of the above mentioned, one must take precaution! Some worms, beetles, and locusts (for example) are poisonous. A general rule of thumb is if the insect is brightly colored then leave it be. However, even this rule does not always apply.

One other added benefit of crunching (or squishing) down on bugs is that, not only can they be wild caught – as they are plentiful – but they require very little space, food, and water to raise. It may even become common to find people raising them at home!

But let's go back to the protein bit . . .

We know that bugs, individually or by the bunches, can be eaten. And that's all fine and dandy, but what other uses are there? How else can we produce insects to fill our dietary needs? Oh, yeah. By use of flour or meal.

The most looked at and used insect for this is the humble cricket. Currently, this concept (cricket flour) is already being used in protein bars and powders by roasting crickets and grinding them down into flour. And, as time progresses, it may enter the grocery store shelves in many other ways such as microwavable meals, processed meats (think hot dogs), cat and dog food, livestock feed, and so on.


Crickets, conveniently enough, out way beef in protein by volume, they're very plentiful, easy to raise, obviously require far less water, food, and growing space (boxes and buckets), produce less methane gas than cows, and contain significant amounts of iron and amino acids. So it's easy to understand why “cricket flour” has a growing popularity.

So let us just say that we have to accept the idea (or fact) that consuming insects will be a way of life for everyone. The question we have to ask now is . . . how will we accept the transition? Well, it may not be as bad as you might think!

Honey ants have a bulb filled with liquid that is to taste like honey; hence the name. Other insects are said to taste sweet and fruity. And, more often than not, many insects are known to taste earthy or nutty. With that said, perhaps if we can get past the thought of placing a bug in our mouths and chewing it, then maybe, just maybe, bugs will be welcomed with open arms?

Whatever the future holds for us, and no matter we like the things heading our way or not, humans have always learned to accept, overcome, and adapt with the times. With the challenges that we now face, like global warming, which is also affecting the way we farm, the future of edible insects as food may be the least of worries!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)