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Insects to Feed the World?

Most of the world eats insects – only in North America, Europe and Australia do people not usually include this staple in their diets. Yet insects as food provide quality nutrients (protein, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins) and are an excellent environmentally and ecologically beneficial alternative to the production of expensive beef and other animal meats. Currently 70% of agricultural land is used for the production of meat. So were more of that land used to farm certain insects, the amount of food produced would increase. Consider the fact that 10 kilos of feed produce 1 kilo of beef or 9 kilos of locusts, a large grasshopper. So with one-sixth of the world’s population considered malnourished, dragonflies, waterbugs, termites, caterpillars and as many as 1,000 different insect species could well supplement the 10 or so animals usually eaten in the West.

But attitudes about eating insects must change in the parts of the world where they are not normally consumed, if they are to contribute widely to the global diet. Yet according to Professor Marcel Dicke at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, even in the West about 500 grams of insects per year are eaten per person. Insect parts can be found in tomato juice, soup or ketchup, in chocolate and in peanut butter – in fact in most processed foods. Thus changing our attitudes should not be too difficult.

Ant or beetle, anyone?

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