Bugs: Our Key to Survival?

October 22, 2015

Insects come in a huge variety of shapes and colors, and they play a critical role in the ecology of the world through pollination, processing animal waste, and providing a source of food for a wide variety of animal species. Increasingly, however, advocates are also making the case that bugs have a wider potential for helping humanity with sustainable and nutritious food.

Among the benefits most frequently cited by entomophagy advocates and agencies such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are that the bugs are high in protein and are generally more sustainable and environmentally friendly than other animal proteins. Further, insects convert feed into protein more efficiently than chickens, cows or pigs -- not to mention they emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia, and also require less land and water.

However, the thought of eating insects is a very unappealing concept for most people in the United States despite it being relatively common in other parts of the world. Interest in entomophagy, the consumption of insects, has sparked as of late in the U.S. and on Friday, entomophagist Dave Gracer will visit Stonehill to lead a discussion on this new movement.

The event, which will take place from 11:30-2pm in the Cleary Dining Room, will also feature an insect cooking competition among students and faculty.  This presentation dovetails with and is supported by a faculty grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis' retirement as chairman of Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc., and the work of many academic departments, as well as the Farm at Stonehill, that are infusing environmental stewardship into their courses.

Gracer, who teaches English at the Community College of Rhode Island, is renowned for his work as an entomophagist. Keenly aware of the “eww factor” as he calls it, Gracer said in an interview with CCRI last fall that the fear is worth overcoming. “Look at what's projected: 10 billion people by 2050, and no one knows how to feed them. There are so many other threats against our food supply. GMOs, overfishing, erosion, fertilizer shortages and climate change,” he said.

To read the full interview with Gracer, visit here.