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Insects as sustainable protein: Part 1 – land use

May 30, 2018

Insects have been hailed as an environmentally friendly, alternative source of protein. In this series, we will be exploring just how sustainable insect farming is and really can be.

We start the journey with land use.

Let’s start with some stats on current land use for livestock farming:

  • Livestock takes up nearly 80% of global agricultural land, yet produces less than 20% of the world’s supply of calories (as shown in the chart below) (1)
  • That’s a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass (2)
  • Seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them (3)

I feel the point has been made. Basically, livestock farming is taking up a vast amount of our planet’s precious resources while only providing a fifth of the calories consumed.

Something needs to change, and while plant protein is certainly one part of the solution it still requires vast amounts of land and water to grow the amount needed to feed what will be 9 billion of us by 2050.

Another solution that has to be considered is insect protein!

Here are some more digestible facts for you:

  • Insects can be farmed vertically
  • Producing 1kg of beef requires 200 square metres of land
  • But 1kg of crickets require just 15 square metres (4)

And given that crickets can contain up to 70% protein – that’s a whole lot more meat for your metre.

Keep tuned for the next instalment and…

Join the tiny revolution

(1) http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
(2) https://www.si.edu/
(3) https://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=47145
(4) http://www.fao.org/edible-insects/en/