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Scientists Advocate Replacing Cattle With Insects 760

Posted by samzenpus
from the beetle-stroganoff dept.
rhettb writes "Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that insects produce significantly less greenhouse gas per kilogram of meat than cattle or pigs. Their study, published in the online journal PLoS, suggests that a move towards insect farming could result in a more sustainable — and affordable — form of meat production."


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Scientists Advocate Replacing Cattle With Insects

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  • More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheLink (130905) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:00AM (#34821082) Journal
    Would they be more allergenic though?

    I know more people who are allergic to arthropods than who are allergic to beef/chicken/pork.

    Not sure why this is so- maybe it's the exposure to dust mites?
  • Or Ostrich (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Micah (278) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:01AM (#34821086) Homepage Journal

    I've also heard it suggested that ostrich would be a pretty sustainable replacement.

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:11AM (#34821128)
    Plus we're not a million miles away from being able to culture meat in vats at this point, which need not produce any greenhouse gases at all if set up right. I know a lot of people in developing countries consume insects as a staple form of food, the squirm factor for western audiences would be quite high however. []
  • Eat Them! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NZheretic (23872) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:20AM (#34821186) Homepage Journal
    "When man entered the genetics age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict."

    Countdown to breeding larger insects for human consumption starts in ...

  • Re:Not a great idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zrbyte (1666979) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:20AM (#34821192)
    According to this guy on TED [], you eat lots of insects with processed foods already.
  • Om nom nom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bazman (4849) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:27AM (#34821250) Journal

    In places where large clouds of flies congregate, such as Lake Malawi, the locals net millions of flies and compress them into little cakes. Handy protein packs. I'm sure they may have some nice recipes.

  • Simpsons did it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday January 10, 2011 @05:53AM (#34821384)

    Remember the ribwich? []

    And how Krusty said in the end when asked what animal it was made of "Think smaller. Think more legs"?

    It's all in the commercial, I tell you. Just don't tell people what they're eating, slap a lot of MSG-loaded sauce on it and it will sell.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:07AM (#34821462) Homepage

    humans being apes with less hair

    Technically, an average human has more hair follicles on his or her body than an average chimpanzee. The type of hair is responsible for visible differences, for "nakedness".

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:29AM (#34821584)

    Growing meat is like nuclear fusion. The principles are extremely well-understood, but the implimentation is surprisingly tricky. (I've heard that one of the current issues is texture. Unexercised meat* supposedly isn't any more satisfying to the teeth than Quorn.) PETA's $1m prize for commercial vat chicken is probably perfectly safe, given the 2012 deadline.

    *Admittedly most food animals don't get a lot of exercise anyway, but it's still above zero.

  • Re:Or Ostrich (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:43AM (#34821650)

    Not if it's cooked *juuuust* right. but 5 seconds on the heat can make the difference between undercooked, just right, and overcooked with kangaroo. Having cooked it quite a few times it's just too damn annoying to bother again.

    Exactly right. Kangaroo is very very lean so even a fraction too long on the grill makes it incredibly chewy. It's damn good when it's done right (and healthier than most meats). But getting it right is so hard that it may never be a mass-market commercial meat for that reason alone.

    I've cooked kangaroo 3 or 4 times and only once did it come out 'perfectly', IMO. Then again I'm a 28 year old male - my cooking skills are not what you'd call 'good' ;)

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beerbear (1289124) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:05AM (#34821754)
    "They" are not just starting, "they" have been doing it for quite a while, at least here in Germany. I remember having a very interesting class on that subject back in high-school (14 years ago)
    'If those guys over there can't handle the environment, then it's our right, no, our duty to invade them and make them care'. Luckily enough, not many people are paying attention to them.
    And the vast majority of ecological minded people are still deeply rooted in democracy.
    Please be careful not to lump them all together.
  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Magada (741361) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:12AM (#34821796) Journal

    I'm quite sure you could zap and/or stretch vat-grown muscle once in a while to get it in shape. It's being done to comatose patients, why not to bits of cow?

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Captain Hook (923766) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:13AM (#34821802)
    It's a bit of a straw man arguement, because we aren't simply going switch to vat grown meat overnight, so we aren't going to need to suddenly dump millions of cattle into an enviroment they aren't equiped to deal with.

    It will be a gradual thing, with less and and less cattle being bred each year as the quantity of vat meat increases (if it ever gets accepted of course).

    Ultimately it may mean the extinction of whole breeds, but I don't think individuals will suffer any more than they already do under intensive farming methods.
  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Burnhard (1031106) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:34AM (#34821908)
    I will try not to in future. But it is frightening to hear such things in mainstream Environmentalist discourse.
  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arikol (728226) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:06AM (#34822080) Journal

    yes, it's the fat.
    And fat from grass/moss fed animals is way, way better tasting than from grain/feed fed animals.

    The fat absorbs a lot of the taste of what the animal eats. Do Americans then taste of french fries and McDonald's?

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ProppaT (557551) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:31AM (#34822224) Homepage

    The grossest thing about meat in the grocery store is all the chemicals they have to spray the meat down with to kill all the bad stuff and disease picked up from the animal from living in such poor conditions. These animals are sickly, yet we slaughter them, spray them down, and eat them. It's a terrible system, but it's what you get living in a society of heavy meat eaters that demand low cost over quality. It's really a shame.

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by silentcoder (1241496) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:47AM (#34822356) Homepage

    There's a much bigger factor: diet.
    Free range farming means a much more natural diet for the animals and you can definitely taste the difference.

    More-over it can even be seen with your eyes sometimes. I started buying exclusively free-range eggs some time ago (because frankly while I love meat I am opposed to senseless cruelty in the process and I can think of no crueler farming method than battery chickens) - and there is a clear difference.
    They don't just taste different (more flavorful) but actually look different. Free range egg have a decidedly stronger yellow yolk than battery-farmed eggs break any one of each and compare the free range egg yolk is a darker, richer yellow sometimes even hinting toward light browns, orange and reds.
    You can always tell the difference - the pale one is the battery-farmed egg.

  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AltairDusk (1757788) on Monday January 10, 2011 @10:13AM (#34823332)
    Diet makes a big difference in how meat tastes too. My family hunts and depending on the available food sources in an area the deer will taste different. People who often find deer taste very "gamey" should try changing the area they hunt in, this is often a result of the diet. Taking deer in an area with abundant sources of alfalfa and beech nuts will usually result in very good meat.
  • Re:More allergenic? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday January 10, 2011 @12:17PM (#34824844)

    The grossest thing about meat in the grocery store is all the chemicals they have to spray the meat down with to kill all the bad stuff and disease picked up from the animal from living in such poor conditions.

    Well that's a load of shit. Please, do tell us which horrible horrible "chemicals" are sprayed on these poor diseased carcases, exactly. Maybe you could also link to a peer-reviewed study showing the significantly higher incidence of disease amongst animals raised using different methods. Go ahead, I'll wait.

    I can easily imagine without resorting to peer-reviewed journal articles that there are "conditions" that could result in higher and lower incidence of disease among animals. After all, we know from our own experience as animals that our own living conditions greatly affect the incidence of disease in our populations. Consider typhoid, a disease that all but disappears in areas with modern sanitation.

    I see no reason to believe that animals raised in poor sanitary conditions, would be sicklier than animals raised in good sanitary conditions. Do you really need a cite? Really? You were just trolling with that one.

    As for chemicals used in cleaning carcasses -- besides water and steam -- here's an abstract [] from an article in the "Journal of Food Protection". Your wait is over!

    Reports on the microbiological effects of decontaminating treatments routinely applied to carcasses at beef packing plants indicate that washing before skinning may reduce the numbers of enteric bacteria transferred from the hide to meat. Washing skinned carcasses and/or dressed sides can reduce the numbers of aerobes and Escherichia coli by about 1 log unit, and pasteurizing sides with steam or hot water can reduce their numbers by > 1 or > 2 log units, respectively. Spraying with 2% lactic acid, 2% acetic acid, or 200 ppm of peroxyacetic acid can reduce the numbers of aerobes and E. coli by about 1 log, but such treatments can be ineffective if solutions are applied in inadequate quantities or to meat surfaces that are wet after washing. Trimming and vacuum cleaning with or without spraying with hot water may be largely ineffective for improving the microbiological conditions of carcasses. When contamination of meat during carcass dressing is well controlled and carcasses are subjected to effective decontaminating treatments, the numbers of E. coli on dressed carcasses can be [less than] 1 CFU/ 1,000 cm2. However, meat can be recontaminated during carcass breaking with E. coli from detritus that persists in fixed and personal equipment. The adoption at all packing plants of the carcass-dressing procedures and decontaminating treatments used at some plants to obtain carcasses that meet a very high microbiological standard should be encouraged, and means for limiting recontamination of product during carcass breaking and for decontaminating trimmings and other beef products should be considered.

    There are 10 more articles found with the search "cleaning beef carcasses" []at pubmed.

    And that was just the first suggestion from Google.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk