My sustainable futures research revealed some interesting statistics. The food and agriculture industry are equal contributors for global warming and climate change when pitched against the oil and steel companies (the ratio is 57% – 43%). What is more alarming is that cows are responsible for almost 15% to 18% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the world! One could dismiss this for a vegan propaganda. But UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report lists it as an alarming wake up call for the meat lovers of the world. Before arriving on critical questions in this research, the fields of study ought to be defined.
Considering the project is a critique on fuel-farming, Ethics is an important field of the study on the matter. Applied Ethics, animal rights and bio ethics. Raging debate on bio ethics is the current debate on labeling ‘genetically modified food’. The primary field of study for the project is Bio technology, Bio-chemistry, cattle physiology and Chemical Engineering. Anthropology, gene culture co-evolution, medical anthropology and population genetics help understand the patents on seeds by Monsanto which has driven farmers in India and Brazil to commit suicide. The supply-demand model of economics help understand agricultural economics and ecological economics. The project also deals with Evolutionary Psychology in acceptance of Etymophagy. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments. An interesting project in Sustainable Civics is Pam Warhurst – the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land in TodModern into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community. Environmental Sociology gives the project an understanding of human interventions in environment. Sustain-ability has become about saving humanity rather than the planet. Without sustainability we’re doomed and without us, the environmental problems will self correct.
It is a bizarre world out there! Well, bizarre is relative but a recent research on my part revealed that the food and agriculture industry is equally responsible for global warming and climate change as are the oil and steel companies (the ratio is 57% – 43%). What is more alarming is that cows are responsible for almost 15% to 18% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the world! One could dismiss this for a vegan propaganda. But UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report lists it as an alarming wake up call for the meat lovers of the world.
Meat and dairy products feature in our daily diets as protein supplements. With the world population growing, soon the supply for meat and dairy products will be in short supply. UN FAO estimates 70% increase in agricultural land is required to feed the growing population. Deforestation for agriculture is already responsible for about 18% of the earth’s greens missing. Looking at this grim future, UN suggests we take to an ancient way of acquiring protein. A Bug! Almost 1000 different varieties of bugs and insects could make up our future protein intake. Countries like Mexico and China already have a active bug eating community. It is only in the west that ‘Entomophagy’ is considered ‘creepy’. What is ironical is that while we try to make our fruits and vegetables insect/bug free our ‘meat’ intake ought to be bugs! Fancy a farmer instead of squatting a fly, eating it?!
Paving the way forward, Katharina Unger devised the Farm 432. The device can harvest half a kilogram of larvae every week, which is enough for two meals.The machine is designed to be the perfect environment for flies and their larvae allowing in enough light and space for them to grow. Black Soldier flies were chosen as they are easy to breed and contain up to 42% protein – double the amount in the average chicken breast – and a high level of calcium and amino acids. A gram of Black Soldier fly eggs can become 2.4 kilograms of edible protein! Maybe this is how our future kitchens and home gardens will look like. As ingenious the idea, I think it still remains to be answered how acceptable is eating insects for protein? I don’t think the question is of acquiring protein as much as it is that of tearing off of meat from bone. Eating meat stems from one of human kinds primal behaviors of hunting and gathering. Eating bugs may provide the same amount of protein but does not feed the psychological need of eating ‘MEAT’. Till we find ourselves an alternative or a substitution for ‘MEAT’ I think we make do with bugs.