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Future Astronauts May Survive On Eating Silkworms 384

sciencehabit writes "Science reports that silkworms may be an ideal food source for future space missions. They breed quickly, require little space and water, and generate smaller amounts of excrement than poultry or fish. They also contain twice as many essential amino acids as pork does and four times as much as eggs and milk. Even the insect's inedible silk, which makes up 50% of the weight of the dry cocoon, could provide nutrients: The material can be rendered edible through chemical processing and can be mixed with fruit juice, sugar, and food coloring to produce jam."
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Future Astronauts May Survive On Eating Silkworms

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  • Cutlery! (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrRay720 ( 874710 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:04PM (#26449637)

    If you can find a way to properly polymerise their silk, you could even make plastic knives and forks (or better, a spork) out of their silk to eat them with.

    Breed larger silkworks and you could even use them to make the plates to eat them from! BONUS!

  • Re:gross (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bobartig ( 61456 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:12PM (#26449779) Homepage

    They taste kind of like a very musty bean, but they have the typical cooked larva mouthfeel to them, a slightly taught exterior that 'pops' when you bite into them, and a soft creamy interior.

    I'm not just talking shit either. Silk worms are a very common street vendor food in Korea, and I tried some the last time I was there. I'd seen them for decades, but I'd chickened out when I saw them in my earlier years.

    If I was in some sort of survival environment, like the harsh vacuum of space, I wouldn't mind eating silk worms, but on a regular basis, I'm not too fond of them.

  • Re:gross (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beat The Odds ( 1109173 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:13PM (#26449813)

    can we make them taste like bacon?

    Yes... just wrap them in bacon...

  • by Bobartig ( 61456 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:16PM (#26449873) Homepage

    Seen 'em all over the place in Korea from street carts. They always have this particular insect trifecta: Silk Worms, Crickets, and freshwater Snails: []

  • Re:gross (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:26PM (#26450091) Homepage Journal
    I think musty bean is being generous. I tried one, and it just tasted like dirt. Korea has some great dishes, but bbeon-dae-gi isn't one of them.
  • by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:36PM (#26450267)
    Several points:

    1) The article states that Silkworms seem to be the most compact form of Human-edible food. 1kg of Silkworm Meat will give you far more nutrients and proteins than 1kg of Chicken meat.

    2) For a long-term space mission, (we're talking at -least- decades from now) you would need a renewable food source that ultimately converts solar energy into consumable chemical energy, since Humans can't eat sunlight. So futuristic Arcology-like spaceships might have greenhouses to harness solar energy, and astronauts could eat grown food. However, even Vegans need vitamin supplements and the article states that for protein and nutrient purposes, Silkworms make a great compact, efficient, renewable food source.
  • by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:38PM (#26450301) Homepage

    More like 10kg of food. (Figure I just plucked out of the air)
    Not all the food will be converted to biomass. Much will be wasted on metabolic processes.

  • Re:Food for thought (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:17PM (#26451217)
    That's "RIGHT" round, baby. RIGHT round.
  • Re:gross (Score:3, Informative)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:41PM (#26451797)

    It was a snake, well before avians existed.

    Before that, it was fish.

    Eggs are created to be a large amount of nourishment in an enclosed package. The idea of eating them is probably as old as the existence of eggs.

  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:47PM (#26451943) Homepage Journal

    I guess Chris Moriarty's novel "Spin Control", where a good deal of the biomass for a long-term space mission was silkworms, was ahead of the curve.

  • Re:or go vegetarian? (Score:3, Informative)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @02:34PM (#26452777) Homepage Journal

    Actually, insect protein is about as close to eating vegetarian, environmentally, as you can get without being a vegetarian.

    Of course, you can survive on a vegetarian diet, but it's not always the easiest or lowest impact way of eating. For example, you can buy a goat for a third world family [] from a non-profit development agency. They graze on things humans (and indeed most animals) can't eat, but they produce milk, wool and eventually meat at very little cost. I've bought some of these. For $175, you can change a family's life.

    Pigs used to graze this way too, before the advent of factory farming. Here in New England, we have a kind geological feature called a drumlin; it's basically a low, rounded hill of glacial debris. Where a chain of drumlins reaches into the ocean, you get modest sized islands of a few acres, sometimes separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of water and connected at high tide. A number of these islands used to bear the name "Hog Island" (until the developers get their hands on them, after which they get names like "Spinnaker Island"). The reason is that in colonial times people drove their pigs on the island and let them run free until it was time to slaughter.

    But insects are by far the most efficient animal when it comes to food conversion, and the quality of that food is, from a nutritional standpoint, outstanding. Unfortunately, insect consumption is fading away in many cultures, as they turn to a more western diet.

  • Re:gross (Score:4, Informative)

    by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @02:44PM (#26452939) Homepage Journal
    They're either boiled, roasted or steamed, then eaten raw pretty much as such with some seasoning. Definitely not raw though.
  • Re:Food Coloring? (Score:3, Informative)

    by KasperMeerts ( 1305097 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @02:51PM (#26453045)
    I think a lot of slashdotters, including me anyways, would love the monotony. No fancy surprises, always knowing exactly what to do. Paradise!
  • Re:Food for thought (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @04:02PM (#26454257)

    The Apollo missions were short duration, and during Solar Minimum, but they were taking a chance. There was a risk (which was known at the time) that a major solar flare could kill the astronauts while they were in cis-lunar space.

    Of course, this was not the only risk they faced...

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill