The Case for Eating Insects

Sometimes it seems like no matter what we eat, there’s an environmental problem with it. It’s either overly processed or has a big carbon footprint or it comes from a factory farm. But an Ohio couple thinks they’ve found an environmentally friendly protein you can get behind—as long as you’re okay with eating insects.

Kevin Bachhuber and his partner raise and breed crickets for human consumption at Big Cricket Farms in Youngstown. Bachhuber’s love for crickets began on a trip to Thailand, where they’re a common snack. The bugs got a big PR boost in 2013, after the United Nations came out with a report pushing insects as an environmentally friendly protein. They need less food and account for fewer greenhouse gases than cows, pigs and chickens.

“The sustainability thing is great. But I got into this because of taste,” Bachhuber says. “I like the taste of bugs. I like having a wide palate.”

LISTEN: “Your Environment Update for January 20, 2016”

Some larger-scale cricket customers grind them up for flour to put in things like protein bars. And a local hot dog restaurant fries them up whole.

Bachhuber says they also try to use every part of the bugs. The cricket waste is sold to composters; a local fish farm buys the legs.

As far as the taste—they’re salty and crunchy, with a unique meaty texture. But head on down to Pittsburgh’s Strip District Meats, which carries Bachhuber’s crickets, if you want to try one yourself.

Reporting by Julie Grant

 

Governor Rolls out First Steps in Climate Change Action Plan

This week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf held a town hall meeting on Facebook to announce a new plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry.

Methane is the main component of natural gas and is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In 2014, the Pennsylvania oil and gas industry released an estimated 115,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere.

“Basically, what they’re going to be doing is creating a new permit for oil and gas operators that will require them to use what they call ‘the best available technology’ to capture leaks,” says Marie Cusick, who covers the oil and gas industry for StateImpact Pennsylvania. “And they’re also going to draft new regulations for existing sources from oil and gas infrastructure.”

The new methane plan is part of a larger climate change action plan that’s expected from the governor later this year. It will also include an update of state forestry plans and new best practices for gas drilling on state forest lands.

“They also said they’re trying to incentivize renewable energy,” Cusick says. “The governor proposed that in his budget last year. It didn’t happen—clearly because they’ve had the long stalemate. But it’s a priority for them.”

Reporting by Kara Holsopple