A recent report authored by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Agency argues that overcoming our squeamishness about eating protein-rich bugs may make the crucial difference in overcoming global hunger. “According to the FAO, more than two billion people—30 percent of humanity—already supplement their diet with insects. And given the number of insects out there —1 million distinct species have already been identified and nearly 2,000 proven edible—diners have a crunchy smorgasbord to choose from.” The most commonly eaten insect groups are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets and cicadas.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Evolutionary biologists say the consumption of insects played an essential role in the development of our species, thanks to their nutritional qualities. “Insects, it turns out, are far more efficient than livestock—perhaps 10 times so—in transforming feed into edible meat. And they largely avoid the huge greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other environmental pollutants, associated with cows and pigs. … By providing employment opportunities, the edible insect sector has a potential role to play in rural development, from Southeast Asia to Central Africa.”