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Should we eat bugs? - Emma Bryce

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What's tasty, abundant and high in protein? Bugs! Although less common outside the tropics, entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs, was once extremely widespread throughout cultures. You may feel icky about munching on insects, but they feed about 2 billion people each day (Mmm, fried tarantulas). They also hold promise for food security and the environment. Emma Bryce makes a compelling case for dining on bugs.

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  • Educator Emma Bryce
  • Animator Julia Iverson, Alicia Reece
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
You may or may not have heard about it before this video, but entomophagy is a recognized way of eating for people all around the world. This report, written by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), contains the most information on the subject, including everything from the history of entomophagy to how we might farm insects sustainably in the future.
The FAO report talks in detail about the business of industrial-scale insect farming for food but also for conversion into products like animal feed for use on livestock farms. Chapter 9 includes some case studies of businesses that have successfully farmed bugs for animal feed. Chapter 11 and 12 take a look at how insect farming can uplift countries and communities that are food insecure, by providing nutrition, by encouraging small-scale insect farming, called ‘micro-livestock’, and trade in insects as a way to boost economies. In another report, the FAO looks at one country that has managed to build a successful insect-farming business sector: Thailand. This book looks more generally at the economic value of insects—not as food necessarily, but for other products they generate, and for their role as pollinators in our global food system. Lots of researchers are also looking into the possibility of starting insect farming in poorer urban areas, like this team that is trying to get insect farming started in Mexico. On the smallest scale, there’s even one company that is designing kits to help people ‘farm’ edible insects at home!
Insects Are Food is a useful general source on entomophagy, covering topics like what bugs taste like and what exactly a mealworm is. Some university researchers are so fascinated by this topic that they have even compiled lists of all the edible insect species in the world. And slowly, people are beginning to see the importance of embracing insects as food: TED Talks showcases a number of discussions about entomophagy, listed on the FAO’s website.
A terrifying flying insect may set your skin to crawling, but there's something incredibly compelling about the jewel wasp. Check it out. I wonder if you'd ever consider eating it. I suppose you should make up your mind before it decides to eat you!
For more about eating and food, check out this TED-Ed series.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Emma Bryce
  • Animator Julia Iverson, Alicia Reece
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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