Why, On Second Thought, Maybe You Shouldn’t Start Eating Bugs

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Not because, well, because they’re bugs—but because it turns out they’re as expensive as beef or caviar.

The idea has surfaced that insects could be the creepy-crawly miracle food of the future. And while grasshoppers and crickets are indeed good sources of protein and low in fat, they’re not all that cheap to raise and bring to market. Not yet anyway.

The NY Times reports on the efforts in the Netherlands to popularize adding insects to the human diet. At a membership-only warehouse type store called Sligro, customers can head up to the meat counter for beef and pork, as well as locusts, buffalo worms, and Bugs Nuggets, which are made with ground mealworms.

Sligro!? Ground mealworms!? Who is running this place, Professor Snape?

Beyond the marketing and gag-reflex issues, there’s another hurdle for those hoping to make insect eating mainstream in the West. That hurdle, according to folks who raise bugs on Dutch farms, is price:

“Wholesale, insects are similar in price to beef now,” Roland van de Ven said, citing the labor-intensive farming methods used. “Locusts are more like caviar.”

Margot Calis, 62, who works with her daughter Marieke on the farm, which employs 10 people, agreed. “The price of insects is much too high,” she said. “There is lots of manual labor involved, and it is too expensive.”


Hi Brad,

You fail to address the inherent flexibility in production that insect farming allows for.
Since industrial insect production is still in its infancy and different species require different management techniques, it's shortsighted to not consider the room for growth past current farming practices.

Mealworms, for example, are easily produced commercially because they can feed in enclosed spaces and these spaces (containers) can be stacked vertically, which opens an entirely new dimension of space management.
While only about 60 percent of a pig's body mass (for example) is turned into edible end products, all of a bug's mass is edible and requires no heavy tinkering before being consumed (except for scorpions :).
Insects are also cold blooded and don't waste energy heating themselves, making the plants we grow to feed them more effectively utilized/ turned into a more nutrient dense end product.
If we've found ways to cage, feed, & breed 2 thousand pound beasts (a.k.a. cows) on an industrial scale, I can't see automated insect farming as much of a stretch.