*SPOILER ALERT* If you haven’t seen the movie yet there is nothing here that will damage the plot, the insect protein farm itself doesn’t play any meaningful role in the film (in terms of the insects). But to avoid triggering any film purists, there’s your spoiler alert.
The opening scene in the movie Blade Runner 2049 features an edible insect farm! They look like palm weevil grubs, to be exact.
In typical Hollywood fashion though, there are a number of things that are wildly inaccurate about the way this “protein farm” operates, and especially the role of edible insects in society in 2049.
- The grubs appear to be growing in large vats of a greenish-gray liquid, rather than in trunks of palm tree wood. While it’s possible and maybe even likely that in another 30 years time some sort of lab-grown food source can replace actual heart of palm for the palm weevil larvae to feed on, it’s unlikely that the grubs themselves will somehow evolve to become aquatic insects, living entirely submerged in liquid. They’re not shrimp! Oops.
- Working in the vats also requires a pretty heavy-duty hazmat suit, which, while it fits with the tone of the film, is a bit unnerving if you think about directly eating the protein-filled grubs which are living, growing, and ingesting whatever that hazardous material is! And as the scene carries on, that’s exactly what is happening – the same grubs he was so carefully handling in the hazmat suit moments before, he has in his bare hand and sets on the table for Blade Runner to try. Mmm, biohazard-filled grubs, yummy! Chewy on the outside, radioactive in the middle! But hey, minor details haha. And sure, they could be suggesting that it’s to keep the growing area totally sterile, though it didn’t come across that way.
- Ryan Gosling’s character isn’t interested in eating the grubs, and in fact he seems repulsed by the idea of eating insect protein. Sorry, script writers, but by 2049 eating insects will be as common and accepted as eating chicken is in 2017. There’s no way that in Los Angeles 30 years from now people will still look at eating insects as a gross novelty. And what’s more, because insect protein is the most sustainable form of protein, for efficiency’s sake the Replicants would most likely be eating a diet entirely based on insect protein.
Now, while the details might seem humorous in their embellishments, the reality is that insect farming is growing here and now today, in 2017.
And whether the future is as bleak as the film portrays, or if the sun still shines 30 years from now, insect protein is going to be a large part of peoples’ daily diets.
And I’m betting on the reality being closer to one element of the scene that actually makes sense – Dave Bautista’s character is cooking up the insects for lunch…
A hulking mountain of a man, 6’6″ and 290lbs, getting his fill of protein from grubs? That’s a portrayal of entomophagy that I can believe. I mean, in all likelihood, he’s probably an Entovegan! 😉
The future doesn’t have to be a sunless, joyless place though. By adopting more sustainable food practices, such as farming insects and eating insect protein rather than the environmentally damaging protein from beef and other livestock, we can ensure that 3 decades from now the planet is in better shape than it is even today.
Of course, if there’s a nuclear winter that’s a different story, but in the unlikely event of that happening, it’s up to each of us to do our part for a brighter future. Edible insects and environmentally-friendly farming practices are a big step in the right direction.
UPDATE: I made a little video called Blade Runner 2049 shows a future with Edible Insects? where I ramble on about these points more in depth. 🙂