Crickets and the California Water Crisis

Crickets and Water Crisis

Why Governments Should Incentivize Insect Farming

Earlier this week, we heard Jarrod’s views on the future of FDA regulations for insects. On the whole, it seems that ento-foods are on the road to being GRAS – generally recognized as safe. But regulation is not the only way the government will (or SHOULD) be involved in the future of insects as food.

Jarrod: On another note, I think that the government can not only regulate these food sources, but also begin to better incentivize food sources that would benefit local economies.

For example, look at somewhere like California with droughts and real water problems. If the government would incentivize farmers there to grow insects and introduce them as a protein source, we could see a huge decrease in resource consumption.  If a person on average needs 50 grams of protein a day, and a family of four ate their protein one day a week from insects, in one year they would save the planet about 650,000 liters of water.

[California has a population of around 39 million. If every family made this shift, we would save 25.35 billion liters] That’s a hell of a lot of water that Californians can save.

Crickets and the Water Crisis

More about the water crisis: 
via the National Geographic

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, in an effort to cope with four years of the worst drought in the state’s history.

Cities and towns in the state were told to cut water use by 25 percent. The state (and much of the West) relies heavily on snowpack each winter to resupply surface water streams and lakes. Because of a lack of winter storms and record high temperatures this past winter, snowpack in California is at an all-time low. This is the fourth consecutive year that the snowpack has been below normal.

While the 25 percent water use restrictions announced last week are intended to help reduce demand, most of the water in California is used for farming, which was largely not included in Brown’s announcement on restrictions. California’s farms produce and export fruits and vegetables, hay for livestock, meat and dairy products. Surface water for farms is allocated from state and federal water projects.

When California faced a major drought in the late 1970s, fewer than 20 million people lived in the state. Now nearly 40 million live there.

Water Crisis Crickets
Credit: Leslie Ziegler
Crickets are Water-Efficient
Credit: Leslie Ziegler

Jarrod: I know there are many hot topics up for debate right now like the legalization of marijuana, but I don’t see insects as something needing that much resistance.  They are safe to eat. Billions of people eat them. We all used to eat them anthropologically. They are very good for the environment. They are very healthy for us. I hope, maybe I’m completely naïve, but if and when the FDA wants to look further upon insects as a food source, they will look at the benefits and work to find solutions to make them more trusted to the public rather than trying to outlaw them.

Aly: I don’t think you’re naïve at all – we’re in the same boat here. When the FDA begins to look more closely at insects as a food source, it will be a good thing because it will mean insects have risen to more popularity. Also, they seem safer to consume than things like beef or chicken in so many regards.

Let’s end with a poignant example: the hamburger.

To grow two and a half pounds of beef, or ten 4oz hamburgers we must use 2500 gallons of water – the same amount the average person uses to shower. For a year.

Hamburger math illustrates that forgoing one hamburger every month is near equivalent to forgoing personal hygiene for an entire year. Please never do that.

More about Jarrod: Jarrod Goldin, one of the founders of Next Millennium Farms, speaks to us to better understand what’s occurring on the ground level of the incredible entomophagy movement gaining popularity.  Next Millennium farms is leading the protein revolution with a new, environmentally sound method of food production.

Water Crisis
Credit: Next Millennium Farms

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