Eating Bugs to Save the Planet
In an ecosystem, all organisms large and small play a role in the survival of the biological community. Across the globe, the importance of insects, in this respect, cannot be underestimated. Though to many humans, these creatures may be a menace, in the future they may end up being a great a help in addressing climate change and global warming.
It’s probably not a surprise that in many parts of the world, insects, at least some of them, are a regular part of local diets. Just as local cultures vary, so do local cuisines. In areas where food shortages have been the norm, the increasing temperatures and rising sea-levels have only made life worse. Since protein from beef, poultry, or pork is scarce in these places, edible insects present a real solution for residents to help them maintain their health in order to survive.
However, in other parts of the world, especially those that are more developed and where food, at least for now, is plentiful, the idea of insects gracing a plate will probably send most diners scrambling from the dinner table with lost appetites. However, many environmentalists suggest that this perception of insects, as something disgusting to eat, may have to change—and quickly.
In coastal areas of the planet that are below sea-level, it has been estimated that even in fifteen years, many places may become inhabitable because of global warming and related flooding. Of course, it is also a real problem for the planet as a whole, and it is primarily caused by human activities.
One of these activities is the production of food, especially animal agriculture, which creates and makes up approximately twenty-five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, it is the wealthier and more developed parts of the world—those with large food industries—that contribute to this phenomenon the most. Therefore, getting residents of these areas to be more responsible for the environment is important. This means their making smarter food choices, for example to consume more edible insects. Unfortunately, doing so is a hard sell because it requires changing consumers’ minds not only about about environmental issues but also about their diets and appetites.
Some years ago, many lovers of Starbucks Coffee were both surprised and outraged to discover that a common red dye used in strawberry and cherry drinks, as well as some red-colored baked goods, was actually made from crushed bugs called cochineal. Though many had consumed these products for years, once they were told about the ingredients, they simply couldn’t stomach the idea of consuming them anymore. In fact, vegans, people who do not eat any food that comes from living animals, eventually forced the coffee company to stop using the dye completely on ethical grounds.
Therefore, raising awareness of and educating people about this issue is important, but also is discovering a way to actually change the mindset of consumers. While not everyone will be open to making changes—unless they have no choice—a good idea might be to start with those people who are already in favor of environmentally-friendly behavior. For example, there are many who understand the importance of reducing their carbon footprint to help cut greenhouse gas emissions so that they can ensure cleaner air, water, and food for future generations. If these consumers knew that their actions were helping to save the planet, they would probably not mind trying to overcome their fear and try eating something new and strange.
Select the best answer to each question based on the information in the text.