This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Millions of people suffer from lack of protein, which is especially dangerous for children – and with the world population set to grow significantly in the coming years, mankind needs more, and cheaper, sources of protein.
Problem solved, believes Dror Tamir. According to Tamir, his company can provide a healthy, cheap alternative source of protein to the millions of children who lack other sources. His plan, he believes, will improve their health, give their families food security and jobs, and help the environment. How? With bugs. “We are growing edible insects for humans,” Tamir said.
His company, Steak TzarTzar – the word means cricket — which he founded with Ben Friedman and Chanan Aviv, aims to be the first to farm edible insects, using high-tech methods to quickly grow them in an organized manner, under sanitary conditions.
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In a world where protein is already lacking – and will become even harder to come by, as the world’s population grow to as many as 9 billion by 2050 – insects, and especially grasshoppers, are one under-untapped source. According to Tamir, grasshoppers are not only healthier than most sources of protein, but also cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
Without sufficient protein, health dangers abound. Lack of protein can hurt kids’ development, damage their immune system, and shorten their life expectancy. Already, cattle is not a viable source of protein for most people because it is too expensive and harmful for the environment – and the availability of animal protein will continue to fall as the world’s population grows and global warming makes farming in temperate climates more difficult.
Other alternative sources of protein are also impractical. Genetically modified salmon were rejected by the market, Tamir said, and the world’s first artificially grown burger cost about $330,000 to produce. “We wanted an alternative protein source and found that insects are the easiest solution,” Tamir said.
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