Eeeeewwwww! Bugs as a culinary delight are in the news again. I know, I know, it’s a cultural thing. Eating bugs is only gross because we’ve been taught to think it’s gross. I get it. I also get that they can be a great source of sustainable protein. If an apocalypse really does happen tomorrow and I’m left for some reason on this Earth with a few other people and our food sources run out, I’ll probably be very happy for some wriggly little bugs after a few months.

The bugs making headlines this time are mealworms. NPR reports that the Dutch are “doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins.” To do so, a graduate student at Wageningen University in the Netherlands calculated the environmental impact of raising mealworms for meat. Not surprisingly, mealworm farming has much less of an environmental impact than farming chicken, pork or beef.

Mealworm farms use one-10th of the amount of land that beef farms do, including the land used to grow the food used as feed for the livestock. (Did you ever think you’d be thinking of those little worms you stick on the end of your fishing line as livestock, let alone as food?)

The study found this conclusion:

Mealworms produce much less [greenhouse gas] and require much less land, than chickens, pigs and cattle. With land availability being the most stringent limitation in sustainably feeding the world's population, this study clearly shows that mealworm should be considered as a more sustainable alternative to milk, chicken, pork, and beef.
While I don’t think we’re close to embracing a regular diet of bugs in the United States anytime soon (even if we should be), the Dutch are starting to. Earlier this year, two special bug buffets sold out at Specktakel restaurant in Haarlem, Netherlands.

Would you be adventurous and go to a special bug buffet? 

Related post on MNN: 10 of the biggest insects in the world

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Are you ready to eat at the bug buffet?
mealworm farming has a lesser environmental impact than traditional meat farming