December 2021

Dr. Shira Bukchin-Peles


Shira Bukchin-Peles

UC Berkeley

Dr. Shira Bukchin-Peles is studying bug eating as a food and feed alternative at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics  

What is the main focus of your Postdoc work?

I investigate different aspects of entomophagy, the consumption of insects. Insects could provide a critical addition of a reliable and environmentally beneficial protein source in the race to combat present and future food insecurity. Currently, our work focuses on the supply chain of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF). This fly is recognized for its bioconversion of organic waste; it can provide a sustainable, protein-packed, high-quality food and feed alternative.

What got you interested in entomophagy?

My research generally focuses on different aspects of sustainable development and food security. The global food system faces the challenge of meeting increasing food demands for an ever-growing population. Environmental pressures, increasing demand and cost of protein, COVID-19 pandemic, and social issues raise concerns for future national and global food security. Evidently, sustainable food systems that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable must be found to feed the world’s increasing population adequately and securely.
Insects could be a game-changer in the race to combat present and future food insecurity. They are a naturally renewable source of food, and they have a high feed conversion efficiency and rapid fecundity. Minimal land and water are required for their rearing, and they have many nutritional benefits. Much investigation is still needed to understand different social and economic aspects of entomophagy, and I am interested in narrowing this gap as a base for future practical recommendations.  
The focus of your research work shifted from studying sustainable technology adoption in the developing world to economic research on understanding eating behaviors, what are your long-term research goals?

I aim to keep conducting interdisciplinary research in sustainable development, emphasizing food security and agriculture. I truly wanted to take advantage of this postdoc and explore new methods and research fields, hence the shift in my studies. This year, I expanded my research to include other innovative avenues for achieving sustainable food systems.  Eventually, I hope to make use of these alternative perspectives and incorporate them in my investigations of environmental challenges.

What tip would you give someone just beginning a career in agricultural research?

First, I would suggest focusing on research that makes you excited! Second, agriculture and food security are very interdisciplinary fields – I recommend always considering both intangible and tangible factors when researching them. A holistic point of view may contribute to generating innovative ideas and avenues for sustainable agricultural development.