The world is expected to be populated by a whopping 9 billion people by 2050, and between overfishing and climate change, it's gonna be kinda hard to come up with enough food for all those hungry mouths. So the U.N. thinks they've stumbled upon a novel solution: We all need to learn to love the taste of bugs.
In a new report released by the global body's Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N also makes the case that bug eating can help us slim down and fight malnutrition in developing countries. They break down the reasons for eating bugs into three main categories: health, environmental, and economic/social:
- Insects are healthy, nutritious alternatives to mainstream staples such as chicken, pork, beef and even fish (from ocean catch).
- Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc.
- Insects already form a traditional part of many regional and national diets.
- Insects promoted as food emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than most livestock (methane, for instance, is produced by only a few insect groups, such as termites and cockroaches).
- Insect rearing is not necessarily a land-based activity and does not require land clearing to expand production. Feed is the major requirement for land.
- The ammonia emissions associated with insect rearing are also far lower than those linked to conventional livestock, such as pigs.
- Because they are cold-blooded, insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein (crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein).
- Insects can be fed on organic waste streams.
• Livelihoods (economic and social factors):
- Insect harvesting/rearing is a low-tech, low-capital investment option that offers entry even to the poorest sections of society, such as women and the landless.
- Mini livestock offer livelihood opportunities for both urban and rural people.
- Insect rearing can be low-tech or very sophisticated, depending on the level of investment.
So which bugs does the U.N. think should be added to our dinner plate in the near future? Beetles are among the most popular insects currently enjoyed as a delicacy from Central and South America all the way to Oceania. Mopane caterpillars are especially popular in Southern Africa and form the backbone of an $85 billion harvest industry. And more than 30 anti-containing products have been approved for consumption by authorities in China.
In fact, so many people around the world are already eating insects, that the U.N report points out that it is mainly Western households that need to get over their fear of bugs and start thinking of them less as a nuisance, and more as a cheap source of nutrition and protein.
Would you eat bugs for dinner? Let us know in the comments below.
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Max Follmer is the Executive Producer of Series and Franchises at TakePart.com. He has previously covered elections and politics for the Biloxi Sun-Herald, The Huffington Post, and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MaxTakePart