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United Nations: A cure for world hunger - eat bugs

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

With much of the world going to bed hungry every night, the United Nations is now espousing a solution that is inexpensive and is immediately accessible to all: People should just start eating bugs. That's right, experts say that such untapped foodstuffs as grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world makes for an ideal feed supply for humans, pets and livestock.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a 200-page report at the U.N. agency's Rome headquarters, the survey points out that two billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects, which are high in protein and minerals and have environmental benefits.

The report states that insects are "extremely efficient" in converting feed into edible meat. On average, they can convert more than four pounds of feed into over two pounds of insect mass. Cattle, in contrast require 17.6 pounds of feed to produce a kilo of meat.

In addition, most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases. In another salient selling point, insects also feed on human and food waste - sounds appetizing!, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed.

Insect farming today usually takes place in family-run farms that cater to niche markets. The U.N. says that more mechanization is needed in order to ratchet up insect farming production. The fish bait industry, for example, has long farmed insects.

Insect farming is "one of the many ways to address food and feed security," the food agency said. "Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly," leaving a "low environmental footprint." They provide high-quality protein and nutrients when compared with meat and fish and are "particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children," the report reads.

Insects can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and are an excellent source of fiber.

The Edible Insect Program is also examining the nutritional potential of arachnids-i.e., spiders and scorpions.

Certain beetles, ants, crickets and grasshoppers, come close to lean red meat or broiled fish in terms of protein per ounce, according to university analysis.

The main stumbling point to determine if this idea has weight - are insects tasty? The report noted that some caterpillars in southern Africa and weaver ant eggs in Southeast Asia are considered delicacies and command high prices.

For most of us, however, the ingestion of insects will continue to be something that we do unintentionally - such as when a fly drowns in out morning cup of coffee, and we wonder - "Did that sugar cube have time to melt?"


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