When you picture a creepy scene what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a graveyard, or a haunted house. Usually, these scenes are accompanied by bats, ghosts, and zombies. Often in the background insects and fungi abound. Long have these last two been associated with the more morose side of life, however, they could very well be the future of sustainable agriculture.
Creepy-crawlies might not be your what first comes to mind when thinking about healthy alternatives, but they should be. Research shows that insects are high in Vitamin B12, Amino Acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids, Fiber, Zinc, and Iron (1). They can also have as much as 5 times the antioxidants of fresh squeezed orange juice (2). They also are a dense source of protein, as much as 1.5 times as dense as traditional meat depending on which insect (3). Additionally, insects are a more sustainable source of protein than most traditional meat sources.
According to one study from insect production can produce as much as 80 times less greenhouse gases as beef production (4). They also grow quickly and can be fed on organic waste. This would allow for a large diversion of waste from our landfills. While eating insects may bug you, the buzz is all over their benefits (laugh at my jokes).
Mushrooms share similar qualities. The are a good source of Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B9, and D, Phosphorus, Selenium, Copper, and Potassium (5). There are positive correlations between mushroom consumption and prevention of decreased cognitive function (5). Additionally, mushrooms are a good source of polysaccharides, which help to stimulate the gut biome and gut health (5).
Mushrooms are also an environmentally friendly choice. They are usually grown on organic wastes, diverting this from landfills (6). They require a minimal amount of water and can be grown with a relatively small physical footprint (6). They also have lower CO2 emissions associated with growing than vegetables (6). You’ll certainly be considered a fun guy once you start eating more fungi (Please, laugh at my jokes).
Bad puns aside, mushrooms and insects certainly have a lot to offer in terms of taste, health benefits, and sustainability. One day we may be dining in at fancy insect-houses instead of steakhouses.
1) Potential Health Benefits of Edible Insects
2) Antioxidant Activities in vitro of Water and Liposoluble Extracts Obtained by Different Species of Edible Insects and Invertebrates
3) Insect Protein vs. Meat Protein
4) Edible Insects as a Sustainable Food Alternatives
6) Mushrooms are Considered to Be the Most Sustainable Vegetable - Here's Why
Blog author: Jakob Hamlescher, Urban Technician