People around the world have been eating and harvesting insects for centuries. Could eating insects be better for the environment than eating other sources of protein, like beef?
About This Video
Grade level: 6-10
Length: 4 minutes
Next Generation Science Standards: MS-ESS3.A, MS-ESS3.C, MS-ESS3.D
Video Discussion Questions:
- Would you eat insects? Why or why not?
- Why do you think there are more people in the world who eat insects than people who don't?
- What might be the effects (for example, on the environment, or on society) of moving from a beef-heavy diet to an insect-heavy diet?
- How could we raise insects to be an efficient and sustainable food source? What should we take into consideration?
Did you know that there is a Spanish version of this video? Check it out here: Un Chapulín Crujiente
Mite-y Morsels for the Classroom
Check out our activity ideas below that you can use in conjunction with this video:
How Much Water Do You Eat?
Did you know that of all of the water on Earth, 97% of it is salty ocean water? This leaves only 3% of the water on Earth for us to use for drinking, bathing, cleaning, irrigation, and other freshwater uses. Can we conserve our precious freshwater resources by changing the way we eat?
In this activity, students will explore how much water goes into producing different kinds of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, dairy products, and meats. They will be challenged to design a balanced and nutritious meal that uses minimal amounts of water. After your students work through this activity once, add Edible Insect Cards to their collection of food cards and challenge them to create one more balanced and nutritious meal using minimal water with this new protein source.
As a class, discuss how the various meals created compared before and after the edible bug cards were introduced. Can you create a meal that has as much protein as beef but uses less water?
- Teacher tip: This activity deals solely with the water footprints of various foods. Your students can use the USDA Food Composition Database to explore the nutritional value of these various foods to make more informed decisions about what constitutes a balanced and healthy meal.
Photo credit: David Orban
An Entomophagical Exploration
Entomophagy is the technical term for humans consuming insects. Entomophagy is very common in many places around the world, such as southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In fact, there are more people on the planet who eat insects than people who don't!
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Individually or in small groups, have your students research an edible insect recipe from a particular region of the world and create a presentation to share it with their classmates. Presentations should include information such as:
- Where does this recipe come from? In what part(s) of the world is this recipe prepared and eaten?
- What kind(s) of edible insect(s) are used in this recipe? How are they cooked?
- Is this recipe similar to one you might be familiar with that uses a different protein source?
- Why are these particular kinds of edible insects consumed in this region of the world? What nutritional value do these insects have? How are they farmed or cultivated?
- What do these insects taste like? What is their texture?
- Is there anything you would change about the recipe?
Encourage your students to be creative with their presentations. For example, students could perform a cooking show skit in which they pretend to prepare the recipe they've researched.
Common Core ELA Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6/7/8.4/5
Photo credit: Alpha
Bugs for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Did you slather peanut butter on your toast this morning? Then you might have gotten more protein than you think...in the form of bugs! Insect fragments in various foods are unavoidable, so the FDA has outlined standards for acceptable levels of insect fragment contamination in foods in their Food Defect Action Levels handbook.
Evaluating Information and Analyzing Data
Have your students keep a food journal for one or more days. Then, present them with the question: How many insects have you eaten? Working individually or in groups, students should access the FDA's Food Defects Action Levels handbook online and use it to document and calculate how many insects and insect parts they consumed over the time period of their food journal. Then, have a class discussion:
- How many bugs have you potentially eaten in the last (1, 2, 3) day(s)? What kinds of bugs?
- Did you know you might have been eating these bugs? Could you see or taste them?
- Why do you think the FDA sets standards for the amount of insect parts that are allowed in various foods? Why do you think the standard isn't zero for many foods?
- How do you feel about the fact that you probably eat insects often if you eat the foods listed in the FDA handbook? Did you know that there are more people in the world that intentionally eat insects for nutrition than those who don't? Does this change the way you feel?
Activity adapted from University of Kentucky Entomology
Photo credit: Erich Ferdinand
Connections to the Next Generation Science Standards
While this video doesn't necessarily cover the following standards in depth, it is a compelling resource you can use to supplement your curriculum.
Disciplinary Core Ideas (Grades 6-8)
MS-ESS3.A: Natural Resources
MS-ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
MS-ESS3.D: Global Climate Change
Our Hungry Planet: About This Unit
To feed our growing world, we need innovative solutions. In this unit, we'll explore environmental issues related to the food we grow and eat. We'll review topics from food waste to urban farming, and learn how simple choices we make impact our planet. This unit introduces students to the process of design thinking, and culminates in a design thinking challenge related to food systems issues.
Browse all materials:
- Activity: Food for Thought
- Activity: Exploring the Impacts of Feeding the World
- Activity: Rapid Brainstorming: Improving Our Global Food System
- Activity: Sustainable Food Solutions: Weighing the Pros and Cons
- Activity: Our Hungry Planet: Design Thinking Challenge
- Supplemental video: What's Up With Your Gut Microbiome?
- Supplemental video: Why Protect Pollinators?
- Supplemental video: Bugs for Breakfast [you are here]
bioGraphic Video: Maggot Revolution
Agricultural entrepreneurs want to solve the planet's livestock-feed crisis by farming insect larvae. Will their scheme fly?
FAO Report: Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security
This 162-page report explores all facets of entomophagy, from its cultural history, to the environmental and societal impacts, as well as the nutritional value.
PBS/KQED NOVA: Bugs You Can Eat
Read two journalists' accounts of the edible bugs they encountered while traveling the world.
Eating Insects to Save a Forest
In Madagascar, a group of people—including Academy researcher Dr. Brian Fisher—are working hard to save lemurs and increase food security. The solution? Edible insects that taste like bacon!