A new 200-page report from the Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) of the United Nations suggests that if more people incorporate insects into their diet, we could reduce world hunger, food shortages, and food insecurity.
“Insects are not harmful to eat, quite the contrary. They are nutritious, they have a lot of protein and are considered a delicacy in many countries,” said Eva Muller, the Director of FAO’s Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division, said in a press release. But, we haven’t learned how to farm them yet, she said: “If we think about edible insects, there’s a huge potential that has essentially not been tapped yet.”
Edible insects include beetles, wasps, caterpillars, grasshoppers, worms, and cicadas. The report says that these insects have high nutritional value.
They also suggest that farming insects is better for the environment than other protein-rich foods, like pigs or cows. Insects are easier to raise, use less water, feed on waste materials, and produce less greenhouse gasses than other livestock.
Insects could not only serve as a food source for humans, but could be a food source for animals that humans raise for food. Insect-farming operations could provide income for people in rural areas, as well.
The problem? People are grossed out by eating insects. You are probably cringing reading this post.
“Consumer disgust remains one of the largest barriers to the adoption of insects as viable sources of protein in many Western countries,” Muller said. “Nevertheless, history has shown that dietary patterns can change quickly, particularly in the globalized world.”
And don’t forget, most of us have already eaten insect-derived food products — remember Starbucks’s Strawberry Frappe colouring ?
Even if westerners develop a taste for bugs, there’s a long way to go to get everyone eating insects. We need to develop technologies and techniques to grow them in large amounts and explore potential allergies, the report cautions.
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