January 25, 2016
JONATHAN HARLINE
and AUSTIN MARDON
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

Since the release of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si', the world has become increasingly aware of the climate change debate.

While scientific causes, effects and solutions are constantly being discussed, some practically-minded people are brainstorming ways to help lessen the impact of climate change.

Many things need to change, but the pope suggests that it is "we human beings above all who need to change," and many aspects of our existence may have to change drastically.

One drastic change would be to our diets, a change that could include moving from meat to insects as our primary source of protein.

While many Canadians and Americans might turn up their noses at the prospect of eating insects, many cultures all over the world already do so. In fact, roughly 80 per cent of the world already considers some insects to be a delicacy.

Many might wonder: What does the Bible say about eating insects? While there are dozens of references to insects, Leviticus and Deuteronomy say that, in the Law of Moses, some insects were declared clean for eating and others unclean.

That was the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant, everything considered unclean is now clean.

In Mark 7.18-19, Jesus said: "Then do you not also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from the outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?"

It isn't what you eat that makes you unclean.

Knowing the Israelites once used some insects as a source of food, and that the rest of the insects are no longer considered unclean, we should have the confidence to discover which insects are the best alternatives to meat.

Many people and organizations are already studying the benefits of insect-eating.

Others might need convincing that we need to change our diet at all. What harm does eating a steak have on the environment?

GREENHOUSE GASES

In fact, humanity's consumption is a large contributor to greenhouse gas production. Livestock alone accounts for 14.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. That's as much as total U.S. emissions in 2014, and more than double that of India and Russia combined.

All meat production, processing, transporting, retail, cooking and waste disposal release carbon dioxide or equivalent gases. Lamb and beef are the worst offenders, producing 39.2 and 27 kilograms of CO2 equivalents respectively per kilogram of consumed food.

VIABLE SOLUTION

It is mind boggling to think that much pollution can come from half a leg of lamb, almost 90 per cent of it from before the animal leaves the farm.

While some companies are researching ways to make meat alternatives from plant fibres, eating insects has been proposed as a viable solution. Studies are starting to show it as a promising alternative.

For example, mealworms and house crickets produce less than a tenth of the CO2 equivalent gases of pork production per kilogram. This is in part because insects convert food into protein far quicker than mammals do and require less energy to live.

FLOUR, CANDY

Other cultures make flour from crickets and silkworm pupae, which is full of protein and omega fatty acids, and which can be combined with regular flour to be used in everyday baked goods.

Some use bugs to make candy, deep fry them for a tasty snack, or dry them and use them as a topping on salads. Many ways of eating insects are well-established in other cultures. We can learn from them.