Sustainability… what really is it? A dictionary definition says it’s the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” Personally, I’m very passionate about sustainability, and it’s one of our core values at Neo Bites. As with most things that become big buzzwords, the term has opened the door to an unethical practice: corporate greenwashing. I’ll save greenwashing for another time, but just know it’s under-regulated and all too prevalent. Look into a product before you fall for an “eco” claim.
“Sustainability” may be one of our core values at Neo Bites, but it’s not a value our current agricultural industry adheres to. Current go-to protein sources have a massive environmental impact and are extremely unsustainable.
Let’s dive deeper.
Only 2.5% of water on Earth is freshwater, and only 10.6% of the Earth’s total land area is arable (capable of growing crops). Yet, today’s agricultural industry uses 70% of both freshwater and arable land.
In the current COVID-19 crisis, deforestation is at an all-time high. When it comes to deforestation to make room for agriculture, we have to do better. Trees are nature’s way of dealing with carbon dioxide. We need to plant more, not tear down what is left.
The world’s supply chains are being challenged, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that as this crisis continues, the demand for meat is not sustainable long-term. Current agricultural practices spread zoonotic diseases (like COVID-19) and produce tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In fact, the top meat and dairy corporations produce more greenhouse gases than Exxon, Shell, or BP.
These impacts are massive, but there’s a silver lining. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says that insects have a huge opportunity to meet the rising demand for meat products. This demand for meat products is expected to more than double by 2050, but the environmental costs of meeting these demands with our current solutions – traditional meat products - are not sustainable.
Crickets use a fraction of the resources used by meat products. They use less water, less feed, less land, and they produce more edible weight. They also produce virtually no GHGs or ammonia, and can reproduce much faster than large mammals. When compared to beef, there’s no question which protein is the responsible way forward.
In conclusion, the current demand for meat is not sustainable long-term, the meat itself is unsustainable, and alternative proteins (like crickets) are not only much more sustainable, but are a recognized solution.