A study completed by the Forestry Department, a branch of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says that insects could be a key food source for Western consumers in the future.
The idea of eating insects may not appeal to the West, however over 1,900 species of beetles, caterpillars, maggots are ants are currently being consumed by two thirds of the world’s population, as reported by ABC News.
People throughout Africa and Asia have been eating insects for centuries and the study states that these crunchy little critters are not only a viable protein source, but they are also environmentally friendly and have the potential to aid in the battle against obesity.
“Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint,” said the report.
According to the report, bugs with the greatest potential to feed the masses include larvae of the black soldier fly, the common housefly and the yellow mealworm.
“The main message is really, eat insects, “ FOA forest economics director Eva Mueller said at a press conference in Rome.
“Insects are abundant and they are a valuable source of protein and minerals,” she said.
Mueller said restaurants throughout Europe are starting to embrace the trend, with high-end restaurants offering insect-based dishes and crickets used as decoration.
The report recognises that “consumer disgust” poses a major hurdle in the Western adoption of insects as a protein source, and acknowledges that education is paramount to its widespread acceptance.
The report also highlighted the value of insects as feed for livestock with the current cost of feed for domestic animals continuing to rise. They also represent a potential export opportunity for poor people in developing countries, who traditionally collect insects in rural communities.
Image credit: Mark D. Martin India via photopin