By Kastalia Medrano
About 80 percent of the world already eats insects, which are a fantastic source of protein. As Americans prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving meal, perhaps it’s time to consider the many merits of a bugcentric holiday feast.
Insects are a food source in many places in the world for good reason. Fried grasshoppers, as The New Yorker has reported, are excellent sources of iron and zinc, and contain three times as much protein as an equivalent serving of beef. In West Africa, they’re an invaluable staple for warding off a dangerous protein deficiency known as kwashiorkor. According to PBS, a single 6-ounce serving of crickets has less than half the saturated fat as the same amount of ground beef (plus twice the vitamin B12).
There are the holdouts who prefer honey-baked ham, but turkey is pretty unquestionably the reigning Thanksgiving centerpiece. Aside from the fact that people like the taste, turkey is a popular meat in the country because it seems both healthy and environmentally friendly. Those things are true, sure, but really only in the context of comparing turkey to beef. Cows use at least 11 times more water than turkey and nearly 30 times more land. Add in the sheer volume of methane gas produced by our country’s cattle (grass-fed or not) and the fact that red meat is also very bad news for your heart and yes, turkey is a great choice.
But the benefits of turkey still don’t stack up to the benefits of bugs. In future Thanksgivings, you might be persuaded to swap out turkey for crickets, which is also what you will be met with after suggesting this to your loved ones.
“I do realize that insects do have a bad rap,” California Academy of Sciences entomologist Brian Fisher told PBS. “Most people see insects are pests or as dangerous. But it’s just the opposite. Insects are less dangerous and less of a problem for humans in terms of disease.”
Insects are also environmentally friendly, broadly accessible, and affordable. Cricket farming produces 100 times less greenhouse gas and requires 22,000 times less water than beef farming, and this is to yield an equal volume of product.