Insects on the Menu: Scientists Warn of Animal Scarcity, Experiment With Bug Diet

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Who needs cows when you’ve got grasshoppers and buffalo worms? (via AFP)

Fearing animal scarcity, scientists in the Netherlands are experimenting with different insects that could replace animal meat as a source of protein in our daily diets.

With nine billion people estimated to inhabit the Earth by 2050, researchers warn we must do something to find an alternative before it’s too late. The alternative they point to are insects, which are low in fat, efficient to cultivate (especially when compared with today’s agricultural land that already faces immense pressure) and can yield much more food than your average pound of meat.

(More on TIME.com: See photos of bug cuisine.)

“The question really should be: ‘Why do we not eat insects?’” said Marcel Dicke, the chief of entomology at the Netherland’s Wageningen University, adding that the average person already unknowingly eats more than a pound of bug particles in jams, breads and other processed foods each year.

Envisioning a world where a Big Mac costs $163, head researcher Arnold van Huis said his “Bug Mac” would be much more cost effective. Using some of the world’s 1,200 edible insect species, Dutch chefs concocted dishes like grasshopper spring rolls, buffalo worm chocolate gnache and a quiche that utilized meal worms in the place of bacon or ham.

While Newsfeed is all for sustainability, we’re worried that ordering off a menu in the future will too closely resemble an episode of Fear Factor and have us longing for the good ol’ days when burgers were beef and sausage was pork.

(More on TIME.com: See photos of the fascinating, frightening world of insects.)

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