From farm to table, mealworms may be the next best food

Dec 19, 2012

Food enthusiasts interested in sustainable farm practices may soon have a new meat alternative: insects. Beetle larvae (called mealworms) farms produce more edible protein than traditional farms for chicken, pork, beef or milk, for the same amount of land used, according to research published December 19 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dennis Oonincx and colleagues from the University of Wageningen, Netherlands.

The researchers compared the environmental impact of meat production on a mealworm farm to traditional animal farms using three parameters: Land usage, energy needs, and greenhouse gas emissions. From the start of the process to the point that the meat left the farm, they found that mealworms scored better than the other foods. Per unit of edible protein produced, mealworm farms required less land and similar amounts of energy.

Previous work by the same team, published in in 2010, has already shown that mealworms themselves produce less than other animals grown for meat. In this new study, the researchers elaborate on the sustainability of insect proteins as a food by showing that growing mealworms for animal protein requires less land and generate fewer than chicken, pork, beef or milk.

Commenting on their results, Oonincx adds, "Since the population of our planet keeps growing, and the amount of land on this earth is limited, a more efficient, and more sustainable system of food production is needed. Now, for the first time it has been shown that mealworms, and possibly other edible insects, can aid in achieving such a system."

Explore further: Water crisis threatens thirsty Sao Paulo

More information: Oonincx DGAB, de Boer IJM (2012) Environmental Impact of the Production of Mealworms as a Protein Source for Humans – A Life Cycle Assessment. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51145. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051145

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lab-grown meat would 'cut emissions and save energy'

Jun 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Meat grown using tissue engineering techniques, so-called ‘cultured meat’, would generate up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally produced meat, according to ...

Pork belly cuts better for environment than beef steak

Mar 18, 2010

Milk, eggs, pork and chicken are friendlier for the environment than beef. This is the conclusion after examining sixteen life cycle assessment (LCA) studies of animal products. However, the margins for the various measurements ...

Recommended for you

Water crisis threatens thirsty Sao Paulo

4 hours ago

Sao Paulo is thirsty. A severe drought is hitting Brazil's largest city and thriving economic capital with no end in sight, threatening the municipal water supply to millions of people.

Climate change: meteorologists preparing for the worst

10 hours ago

Intense aerial turbulence, ice storms and scorching heatwaves, huge ocean waves—the world's climate experts forecast apocalyptic weather over the coming decades at a conference in Montreal that ended Thursday.

Sunlight, not microbes, key to CO2 in Arctic

10 hours ago

The vast reservoir of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is gradually being converted to carbon dioxide (CO2) after entering the freshwater system in a process thought to be controlled largely by microbial ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dan42day
1 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2012
I tried them, not bad but they kept falling through the grill on the barbeque.