Would you eat crickets while traveling to Mars?

For most of us, insects are not an option when choosing our next meal. However, although their appearance is anything but tasty, eating insects actually have plenty of advantages. From fighting against climate change, up to be an efficient alternative in space colonization.

Fried insects dish. Image from killerturnip, on Flickr.

We used to eat insects

It is hard to tell what ancient humans used to do, especially those from Pre-history. But we can have an idea of what they used to eat by getting a closer look to, for example, fossils of dental plaque and… feces (ugh!).

Perhaps insects were considered as an easier option when present in abundance, and also a safer one…unless someone ever tried to harvest wasps!

Why should I try insects nowadays?

We should at least consider it as our current diet is literally impairing the planet in several ways.

Consider the meat industry, I know … meat is delicious! But if we don’t come up with a more sustainable way to produce it more biodiversity will be lost as each year meat production requires more land for crops.

Wheatfield harvest. Image from Frank Shepherd on Flickr.

Meat production is also harmful to the atmosphere as the greenhouse gases it generates are in the same amount as those produced by all the vehicles in the world. That’s a lot of methane!

It is true that sustainable alternatives like lab-grown meat might become a reality in the nearby future but in the meantime, edible insects can solve both problems at the same time!

Greenhouse gases. Image from Bill Dickinson on Flickr.

Let’s be more precise; imagine we have 1kg of edible protein coming from Beef, and also the same amount but generated from Mealworm. If we compare the environmental impact this would be the result:

Mealworm impact is ten times smaller when compared with beef!

But, how exactly? These results come from a study funded by Wageningen University. They evaluated three aspects of environmental impact: Land use surface, global warming potential (emission of the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, and N2O) and fossil energy use.

Even though this smaller impact is only present with land use and global warming potential (energy consumption still has to be improved) it is very promising!

Of course, it is a big challenge to change the way people see insects, it might take some time to consider them as a meal.

Martian snack

Now let’s be optimistic, imagine that you have the amazing opportunity to travel to the red planet. Not only that, imagine that you can actually be part of a martian colony. If you are told that the main protein source along the journey and once in the colony would be insects, would that be a problem for you?

Oh Mars, we might visit you someday! Image from Kevin Gill on Flickr.

We don’t need to imagine the recipe as Andrew Rader has already shared one on his youtube channel.

If you think about it is a good idea to use insects as these require less water and space, can be fed with plant waste and are very nutritious!

Perhaps after some time, we may get used to eating insects. I don’t know about you, but if a travel to Mars is on the line I wouldn’t mind!

To know more about insects as part of ancient humans diet:  Link 1, Link 2

To know more about the environmental impact of mealworms if compared with other sources: Link

To know more about Martian food, not only insects: Link


2 Responses to “Would you eat crickets while traveling to Mars?”

  1. Marco M. says:

    Thank you, Megan! There are several options, but the study of environmental impact considered mealworms only. Here is an image of them:
    http://www.curtishastheworms.com/LIVE-MEALWORMS-2000-COUNT_p_90.html

    They are adorable, aren’t they?

  2. Megan Young says:

    very interesting post marco! eating insects wouldn’t sound appealing to most but if it helps with climate change i’d be willing to try it! what kind of insects are they talking about though? like crickets?