UN recommends we all start eating bugs

UN recommends we all start eating bugs

Bug stand: a Thai merchant sells bugs from her food cart in Bangkok (Image: Rene Ehrhardt)

Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, has been the subject of many a food trend story. Apparently, bugs are a nutritious, protein-rich and environmentally sustainable source of food. Now that there’s a worldwide meat crisis looming, the Guardian is reporting on how the UN is taking a serious look at the benefits of farming insects.

Most nations in the world regularly eat bugs, so, on a global level, the insect-free diet of the West is in the minority. Our aversion to and fascination with the practice shows whenever Toronto restaurants put such critters on their menus. Just ask The Atlantic’s Nathan Isberg, who sautées rosemary-infused crickets with chilies, or Charlie’s Burgers, which held a bug-centric gourmet dinner earlier this year.

The repercussions of our aversion are starting to take an environmental toll, though. “If we continue like this, we’ll need another planet,” says professor Arnold van Huis of Holland’s Wageningen University. He authored a pro-bug paper for the United Nations.

The advantages of this diet include insects’ high levels of protein, vitamin and mineral content. Van Huis’s latest research, conducted with colleague Dennis Oonincx, shows that farming insects produces far less greenhouse gas than livestock. Breeding such commonly eaten insects as locusts, crickets and mealworms emits 10 times less methane than livestock. The insects also produce 300 times less nitrous oxide, also a warming gas, and much less ammonia, a pollutant produced by pig and poultry farming.

It’s probably best, though, to leave the thinking to the scientists and the doing to chefs: the thought of grinding up bugs into “some sort of patty” to make them appear more palatable, as one scientist suggested, is wretch-inducing. Until some better recipes turn up, we’d rather eat these.

Insects could be the key to meeting food needs of growing global population [Guardian]