Insect eating has a technical name, entomophagy, and even some champions in pop culture, the most notable probably being Timon and Pumbaa. Now, a brand new study has taken a look at mealworms, and has determined they may one day be a delicacy, taking precedence over beef, pork, and chicken, and helping the environment, to boot.

The study was published in the open-access peer review journal, Plos One, and was conducted by a group of scientist from the Netherlands who really wanted to look at greenhouse gas emissions. What do greenhouse gas emissions have to do with eating mealworms? It all comes down to taking up less land and introducing fewer emissions than farms dealing in beef, pork, or chicken. According to ABC News, more than 1.7 billion animals are involved in livestock production worldwide, and take up ¼ of all land. In short, the livestock industry is massive, and if people ate mealworms in place of livestock, emissions could be greatly reduced.

The study found that by farming mealworms instead of milk products, chicken, or pork carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by ½ to 2/3 of the current rates. Beef, on the other hand, could be reduced by 90%. Each of these could help in the battle against global warming.

Of course, getting people to eat mealworms for their protein might get a bit tricky, even for people who might indulge in random bug-eating on occasion. I, for one, have tried one of those cricket chocolates, and found it to be crunchy, although not unappetizing. Something about eating an entity with word “worm” in its name sort of weirds me out a bit more, however. If one day bugs are viewed in the same manner sushi was once viewed by certain populations, it could become a trend, although I’m not sure I foresee all people completely giving up on beef or chicken, should that still be an option.

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