Mealworms may soon function as an effective substitute for industrially produced meat. New research has found that beetle larvae, also known as mealworms, can be farmed to produce more usable protein than current farms that focus on chicken, pork, beef or milk do, while using the same amount of land.
“The researchers compared the environmental impact of meat production on a mealworm farm to traditional animal farms using three parameters: Land usage, energy needs, and greenhouse gas emissions. From the start of the process to the point that the meat left the farm, they found that mealworms scored better than the other foods. Per unit of edible protein produced, mealworm farms required less land and similar amounts of energy.”
Previous work by the researchers has shown that the mealworms themselves create far less greenhouse gases than other animals that are raised for meat do. And now, in the new research, they expanded on that by showing that raising mealworms as food uses much less land and creates lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat production does.
“Since the population of our planet keeps growing, and the amount of land on this earth is limited, a more efficient, and more sustainable system of food production is needed. Now, for the first time it has been shown that mealworms, and possibly other edible insects, can aid in achieving such a system.”
The new research was just published December 19th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
Image Credits: Mealworms via Wikimedia Commons