a United Nations report calls for bringing bugs to your next picnic. On the menu that is.
Along with providing a satisfying crunch, "Insects are a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and mineral content," says the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization report released in Rome on Monday.
Despite that endorsement, "We are not saying that people should be eating bugs," said FAO's Eva Muller, in a statement on the report. Rather, the advice is part of a call for forest conservation to help feed the world's 21st century population, projected to peak at 9 billion people by 2050. "We are saying that insects are just one resource provided by forests, and insects are pretty much untapped for their potential for food, and especially for feed."
About 2 billion people worldwide already munch on bugs regularly because food sources are increasingly stretched. The Western diet is the odd one worldwide, in its exclusion of bugs, notes the report, which calls for making regulations more friendly to bug farming.
"If life gives you locusts, make locust-enriched grain," says entomologist Doug Yanega, a senior museum scientist at the University of California, Riverside, and an expert on consuming edible bugs. "The U.N. report is perfectly logical, looking at it objectively, but it is tough to convince people."
Some scorpions (though not technically insects) and water bugs are yummy, Yanega adds. There are 10 million different insects, he says, and some are better than others. "Honey bees are perfectly delicious."
Cicadas should be good eating, too, he says. And that is good news since the latest brood is hitting the USA now. "You are what you eat with bugs. They eat tree sap for 17 years, that should make them pretty good."