Some Say Lab-Grown Insects Are the Food of the Future. But Will People Eat Them?


By Catherine Lamb, The Spoon

June 11, 2019


Over half of U.S. consumers say that they would not eat food made with cricket flour. Only a third of diners in the U.S. and U.K. would take a taste of cell-based meat (that is, meat grown in a lab). So why has there suddenly been so much buzz about how the future of food is lab-grown insects? And is it, actually?


The driving force is a piece in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems by researchers from Tufts University. It suggests that cultured insects (that is, bug cells grown in a lab) are a sustainable source of protein we should be paying more attention to.


According to the paper, invertebrate cell cultures require fewer resources and are more adaptable than mammalian or avian cultures. They can also grow with serum-free media, which makes them significantly cheaper to produce.


This February a new study raised questions about whether cell-based meat was actually better for the environment than traditional animal agriculture. Unlike most cultured meats, however, cultured insect cells require fewer resources (like cooling and electricity), so it’s significantly more sustainable.


Plenty of people have advocated insects as an environmentally friendly protein source, even before cellular agriculture came on the scene. Insects require significantly less land and water than cattle and emit far fewer greenhouses gases, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They produce quickly, have a variety of flavor profiles, also boast an enviable nutritional profile.


But there’s one big problem: the “ick” factor...


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