Industrial-scale in vitro meat may be a long way off, but for meat-lovers looking for a cheap, eco-friendly source of protein, there’s no need to wait. We just have to swear off creatures with four legs and a backbone and look to tasty livestock with an exoskeleton and six, eight, or a hundred legs.
Bugs Originals, based near Amsterdam, is trying to introduce arthropods as the food of the future. Originally associated with primitive lifestyles or times of famine, entomophagy- the eating of insects- may be an ideal solution for growing world with an appetite for protein. Crickets are five times as efficient as cattle when it comes to turning feed into edible mass, while mealworms produce 10 to 100 times less greenhouse gases as pigs.
Bugs Originals has already produced nuggets, muesli and meatballs infused with mealworms. The company’s only barrier to mainstream entry is figuring out how to produce purified bug protein, since the bug’s innards are proving difficult to separate from their inedible exoskeletons. They have had some success grinding up the live insects and centrifuging the resulting mixture. It might sound icky, but meat slurry and grinding live animals are already accepted practices in the production of “conventional” meat. Call me species-ist, but I’d eat a cricket over a chicken any day.