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For Better Food Security, Eat Insects

In a world filled with hunger, drought, crop failure, and pollution, food security is a huge issue. But it turns out that if we can get over our squeamishness, there is an abundant and sustainable food supply hiding right in front of us.

According to the UN, the estimated 1900 edible insect species across the planet could be the answer for a consistent, low-fat, high-protein diet.

An estimated 2 billion people worldwide are already eating insects, from ants to beetle larvae to locusts and caterpillars, and the benefits of doing so are numerous for human health, environmental health, and healthy local economies.

“In most developing and tropical countries, consuming insects is an accepted practice, while in the western world the reaction is often one of disgust. The idea that people resort to eating insects because of hunger is an erroneous western perception as insects are often considered a delicacy.” – FAO

Because raising insects for food produces “considerably fewer greenhouse gases” than most livestock, rearing them for production does not require land clearing, and the fact that they could be fed on our organic waste streams, moving toward an insect-based diet (at least in part), could have a big positive impact on the carbon footprint of our food systems. In addition, insects are very efficient at feed conversion (turning feed into protein), and some species, such as crickets, need just 1/12th of the feed that cattle do for the same amount of protein production.

A recent report from the UN, Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security, says that the most commonly eaten insect groups are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leaf and planthoppers, scale insects and true bugs, termites, dragonflies and flies, and that the use of insects for both human and animal food has a lot of potential.

Find out more at the Edible Forest Insects page at the FAO website.

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