Today’s Gross Health News: Hamburgers Could Soon Be Made Out Of Mealworms

shutterstock_95611843If you’ve been thinking about going vegetarian, this might just make the decision a bit easier: Researchers in the Netherlands have proposed that mealworms–you know, that gross wriggly beetle larvae–could be the next alternative to poultry, beef and pork. Meaning, hamburgers and other “meats” could be made out of worms–not cows, pigs or chickens.

Why is this being proposed? It comes down to environmental issues, according to the researchers. In a world where the population continues to grow, global warming is a major concern and natural resources are limited, they believe that insects, which are lower down in the food chain, can provide just as much protein but in a more responsible and  environmentally friendly way.

Apparently, the mealworms were found to release less greenhouse gas into the environment than conventional livestock. They also take up less space. In fact, in order to grow the insects for food, they require just 10% of the land needed to raise and feed cattle, and just 30% and 40% of the land needed to raise pigs and chicken, respectively, for the same amount of protein.

In a statement, researcher Dennis Oonincx at Wageningen University in the Netherlands explains:

Since the population of our planet keeps growing, and the amount of land on this Earth is limited, a more efficient, and more sustainable system of food production is needed. Now, for the first time it has been shown that mealworms, and possibly other edible insects, can aid in achieving such a system.

All of this is interesting and an admirable way to think about saving the environment. But still. Mealworms? Can that really work?

Yes, says entomologist Brian Fisher at the California Academy of Sciences:

These questions they’re addressing are really relevant to sustainability—this is very exciting work. This addresses how we’re going to grow food in a way that doesn’t jeopardize how our children and their children live, and offers another reason why we should explore insects as a protein source.

Good points. Although, admittedly, the idea of eating mealworms is just gross. But, as Fisher said, it’s really no different than other animals we may consume:

We need to promote a campaign along the lines of, ‘If it’s okay to eat sushi, it’s okay to eat insects. If you eat lobster, eating insects is pretty much the same thing.

For me, I’ll be sticking with the plant-based sources of protein, like quinoa, lentils, beans and tempeh.

How many of you would try a hamburger made from mealworms?



Share This Post:
    • dbs

      Fortunately for your palate, manmade global warming is a myth. So keep that beef a-coming.

      • gungi

        indeed it is. Don’t forget just shy of a hundred years we had a global cooling crisis.

      • AerosmithNirvana

        Are you guys for real? I hope you have Phds to back that crazy up.

      • Ryan

        I clearly remember the cry of “The next ice is coming!” back in the 1970′s and the talk about “nuclear winter”. So I don’t believe these people who call themselves scientists and use minor earth temperature fluxuations to line thier pockets. “The wolf is coming! The wolf is coming! The earth is warming!… what ever.

      • LL

        Nuclear winters have nothing to do with the current state of climate change. Wrong topic, Ryan. Get an education please.

      • Ryan

        The cold war was going on at that time and the ‘theory’ was that a nuclear hollicost would cause a nuclear winter by way the smoke/polution from the bombs would block the sun rays and the earth would freeze. That was the climate connection. They may theorize opposit now that the polution from a nuclear war would cause a greenhouse affect instead. I look at it this way. More CO2 is good for plant life. Warmer earth means longer growing season. Longer summers have plants making more O2 counteracting the CO2. The two together means more food and farming farther into the north. More warmth means more storms and more storms cool the air counteracting the greenhouse affect. Then there is the real noticable affect of the solar cycles how we have a few years hotter summers with warmer winters and then we go into a few years of cooler summers and really cold winters. Mid 90′s were really cold, 2003 was really warm, 2008 was really cold and 2012 was really warm again… solar cycles.

      • Tyler Casper

        Yeah. Because pumping CO2, H2O, and other gasses with greenhouse properties into the atmosphere has no affect on global temperatures.

        Get a grip.

      • Aeropage

        Especially the dangers of that deadly H20. Don’t be fooled by the people who will try to tell you that’s been happening for a long time, and it’s called “clouds”.

      • LL

        H2O is water. You’re probably talking about Co2, which is carbon dioxide. Go take a basic high school chemistry class before you come on here and show off your ignorance. CO2 is bad in large concentrated amounts, if you don’t believe me, why don’t you go sit in a room fill with mostly of CO2 to test it out.

      • Aeropage

        I think the word here is… “whoosh”. Please note who first said that H20 in the atmosphere was a “problem” in the thread, and add a sarcastic tone to my post as necessary.

      • LL

        Damn, you got me there! Maybe this Tyler Casper person should be the one testing out my CO2 experiment.

      • Aeropage

        It’s “climate change”. And per that new, proper, descriptive term, it is the overwhelming consensus of scientists that the earth is either warming, or cooling, plus or minus X degrees, over Y years. What more do you need to stop doing whatever you’re doing and start doing whatever the climate change committee tells you to do, whenever they tell you to, without them needing to be specific up front about what their commands will be or the budgets they want, ’cause, you know, We’re All Gonna Die? So there. And… I’ll take my burger with cheese, please.

      • LL

        Yes, man made climate change is a myth, even though it’s happening right before your eyes. I say what’s a myth is the existence of your brain.

    • ecos

      @ DBS and @GUNGI Your comments make it sound like you failed science class. 99% of the scientific community agree that people are having significant impacts on global climate change. But I suppose if that does not fit your political persuasions, then you should deny those findings and encourage people to do nothing.

      • Vigilant Satyr

        I would encourage people to keep studying the climate and all of the factors that affect it and perhaps explain the differences between the expected outcomes and the observed outcomes so breathlessly reported by a hopelessly naive media. Climatology it is still in its infancy and one of the most, if not the most complex subject that man has attempted to understand.

      • Yosarian

        No it’s not, I’d say quantum physics and the search for the HIggs are the most complex we’ve tried to understand, Maybe you’re just dumb. I’m not saying the earth doesn’t have a complex ecosystem and that our actions amy have unintended consequences, but any 1st grade science student can tell you if you pour dangerous chemicals in an environment it’s going to poison whatever is in it.

      • Vigilant Satyr

        You clearly have no concept of the complexities involved in climate. Quantum physics and the search for the Higgs Boson were child’s play compared to global climate and the interactions of its many complex systems.

    • Jeffman454ss

      Ill eat grass before I eat that stuff

    • Addy

      We eat other arthropods. Seriously, how much of a difference is there between beetles and lobster? I’ll give you a hint. Less of a difference than between a cow and a chicken.

    • William Marshall

      So, while it is nice to see the usual “tree-hugger” vs. “Science illiterate” argument going on below, I’ll address the question of the author. I’d do it,dude. I’d eat bugs, particularly if they were turned into something that didn’t LOOK like insects. The same people who are going to flip out over eating bugs are the same people who have been cheerfully eating pink slime since they were children, so it is hypocritical I think. In my time living in Asia I ate roasted insects and grubs a few times – they have the flavor and consistency of roasted peanuts. That said, if someone gave me a choice of bug or beef… I’d probably go with the beef.

    • Timur Perelmutov

      I bet the new insectburger would taste better and would be lower in cholesterol too. I can’t wait until they hit the WormDonnalds Restaurant Next door. Yummy!

    • LL

      WTF. There’s nothing wrong with eating mealworms, and it’s not gross. In many parts of the world they’re considered delicacies. Whoever wrote this article needs to take a good look at what they consider “gross”. Get off your stupid high horse and go travel around the world. It’s not like they’re going to make burgers out of dog poo, that would truly be gross.

      • Rebecca

        THIS. I think this thread is a great image of first world privilege.

    • Invidia

      What is the point of this technology? It’s like a less healthy, more expensive soyburger. We don’t need more protein. Plants have plenty and we eat too much already. Nasty meat-substitutes aren’t replacing anything; if I can’t have TASTY meat, I would prefer to substitute a tasty vegetable rather than processed protein goop.

    • Susie Bennett

      I’ll have the tofu instead, please!

    • Brian Seitzman

      Sure, I’d eat it. Why not? Mealworms are fed on plant material. They’re not scavengers and don’t carry any diseases communicable to human beings.

      I’ve tried eating cicadas and silkworms before. In my experience, they don’t have much flavor. I’d imagine that insect hamburger would have other ingredients to compensate for that shortcoming. If it means that we can get inexpensive protein and essential amino acids while diminishing our impact on ecosystems, I can’t see good reason *not* to do this.

    • waffre

      I don’t eat hamburger very often in the first place, but I’d try a mealworm-burger… Sounds better than eating a chemically manufactured hamburger substitute at least.

    • aphi

      I’d rather eat pink slime

    • Rachel Matteson

      It is bizarre to actually think that these worms are the future food for humans but we really don’t have much choice because of the uncontrollable things that are happening in our environment. –

    • meteor_echo

      Pthhhhhbbbt. If it tasted well, and looked like a normal burger, I’d eat it in a heartbeat. I’d even eat a burger made out of poisonous Australian spiders, if it had no differences from your run-of-the-mill Big Mac.

    • John Sewart

      This if “far from my 1st choice”. I suppose if push came to shove I could (as a survivalist) eat it, with ketchup of course! The idea just poses another option. John Sewart

    • MariJo Lee

      I resisted vomiting about 30 times just thinking of it. Could not even read the whole article! Next article!!!