Can We Eat It?

         Utilizing grasshoppers or other insects as a food source is arguably a more efficient and healthier alternative to modern livestock. Currently, the global livestock sector emits over eighteen percent of the worlds’ annual greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, rearing livestock consumes a staggering amount of fresh water when compared to insect rearing. For example, raising one-third pound of edible protein from grasshoppers requires only the water in the leaves of the plants they eat, whereas one-third pound of protein from cattle requires almost 900 gallons of water (Walsh, 2008). When it comes to the efficiency of conversion of ingested food to unit of body substance, or ECI, insects are often several times more efficient than most livestock. This increased growth efficiency is largely due to the fact that insects are cold-blooded. Mammals like cows, pigs, and sheep expend much of their ingested energy on maintaining their internal body temperature. Insects like grasshoppers, however are able to maintain their body temperature by simply basking in the sun. This means that more of their energy translates to growth, which means more food for less.

         Amazingly, insects like grasshoppers are not only a more efficient and sustainable food source than regular livestock, but often more nutritious too! At roughly 21g of protein per 100g serving, grasshoppers rival the protein content of beef and fish. They also have twice the amount of iron as beef and five times more than fish! (Dunkel & Berenbaum, 2000)

         For years grasshoppers have plagued the fields of farmers and demanded the use of dangerous pesticides and poisons. However, if properly utilized as a food source we could effectively eat our problems away. Instead of wasting money on potential harmful pesticides we could harvest the grasshoppers as an additional free food source. But, why stop there. Cattle-rearing is an inefficient practice and growing problem. Large herds of cattle are commercially raised in close proximity, which demands copious amounts of antibiotics to keep the herd healthy. This irresponsible use of antibiotics has spurred the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria that require even more money to be dealt with. In contrast grasshoppers are organisms that have evolved to live in large numbers in close proximity to each other or swarms. By employing this evolutionary trait grasshoppers could safely be reared in large numbers as a food source much more cheaply than cattle.