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5 Bugs You Should Eat To Fight World Hunger

5 Bugs You Should Eat To Fight World Hunger

Planning a backyard barbecue for Memorial Day? It might be time to swap the beef patties for burgers of a…buggier kind. A new report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that beetles, wasps, caterpillars and other insects are an unexplored nutrition source that can help address global food insecurity.

According to FAO, it is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. Insect gathering and farming can offer employment and cash income for those struggling to survive, and although most if it’s currently done at the neighborhood level, scaling up to commercial insect operations is an option the UN wants to encourage.

“Domesticating and rearing insects can help sustain insect populations while also helping counter nutritional insecurity and improve livelihoods,” said Afton Halloran, a consultant for the FAO Edible Insects Programme. “Farming insects has a huge global potential for both animal feed and food production. We are already seeing producers creating animal feed from insects and research. And development is occurring around the world in order incorporate insects into menus and processed foods.”

Though vegetarians probably won’t be thrilled at the idea of chomping down on an insect sandwich, those who say the production of meat is destroying the planet will be encouraged to know that the production of greenhouse gases by insect farming would likely be lower than that of livestock. For example, pigs produce 10-100 times more greenhouse gases per kilogram than mealworms.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at five of the most commonly consumed bugs, and what they could bring to your dinner table!

Beetles

Edible Insects, Dung Beetles

Globally, beetles are one of the most consumed insects are with 31 percent of the population chowing down on these six-legged bugs on a regular basis. Despite the icky-sounding name, dung beetles (pictured above) are often eaten fried and are quite tasty.

 

Caterpillars

edible insects - caterpillars

According to the FAO, 18 percent of the world enjoys finding caterpillars on its dinner plate, especially in regions where it’s difficult to get your hands on other sources of protein. They’re served boiled, dried or fried in oil.

 

Bees & Wasps

edible insects - wasps

Here in the US, we depend on bees to pollinate our fruit, vegetables and nut trees, but elsewhere in the world, bees and wasps are a food source all unto themselves. The FAO estimates that around 14 percent of the world chows down on these winged insects. According to Edibug, “Wasps are eaten in both adult and larval stages. Boiled, sauteed, roasted and fried, they taste somewhat buttery and earthy. Emperor Hirohito of Japan favored boiled wasps with rice.”

 

Ants

edible insects - ants

Ants are another favorite among insect eating cultures, with everything from carpenter ants to leaf-cutter ants enjoyed as a delicacy and source of protein. “Honeypot ants have abdomens swollen with a nectar-like substance, which is used to feed other ants, sort of like a “living larder.” An excellent “bush food,” they are dug up from the ground and eaten raw by  aboriginal peoples in Australia,” reports Edibug.

 

Grasshoppers, Locusts and Crickets

edible insects - crickets

This group of buzzing, jumping insects is consumed by at least 13 percent of the global population, according to FAO, and is probably the best option if you’re looking to make those burgers out of something other than cow meat. Beef has an iron content of 6mg per 100g of dry weight, while the iron content of locusts varies between 8 and 20mg per 100g of dry weight, depending on the species and the kind of food they themselves consume.

 

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Honey pot ant image via Wikimedia Commons. All other images via Thinkstock.

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2:59AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

I remember in school our anthropology teacher brought in bugs and dared us to eat them. I was one of the few and I must say the fried grasshoppers were actually pretty good. Tasted somewhat like popcorn, though the legs did kind of get stuck in my teeth. I can see them being very tasty with some kind of spices added as well.

8:03AM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

thanks for sharing

6:33AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

if the Locusts come and eat your crops, do you let them live? they need to eat too. so you do not hurt them, nor kill and eat them for devastating crops.
then again, there are always nets to protect said crops from marauding grasshoppers, and natural pheromones to drive them off for other food sources.

7:11AM PDT on May 26, 2013

Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
I would eat those bugs if I were somewhere it's common to have such meals. I'm in Europe though, it still sounds weird to me... not disgusting, just weird.

6:57AM PDT on May 25, 2013

Thank you for the informative article.

8:52AM PDT on May 23, 2013

yak!

9:35AM PDT on May 21, 2013

If the population continue to increase as it is, insects will be the food of the future, whether we like it or not.

7:31AM PDT on May 21, 2013

TO: Nikolas K._______GREAT COMMENT ! ____AND___We shouldn't be eating the pollinators.

_ NO POLLINATORS = NO FOOD.

Makes me think that the writer of this article wasn't thinking about that. DER de DER.

2:07PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Great idea! Lets start by frying up some of the insects we have in office.

12:10PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Sure! =D

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