London - The solution to world poverty may have been under our noses all along. The United Nations has issued official advice suggesting that Earth's inhabitants eat insects to help combat food-insecurity and reduce pollution worldwide.
The UN acknowledges that “consumer disgust” remains “one of the largest barriers to the adoption of insects as viable sources of protein in many Western countries”.
Over two billion people worldwide already regularly eat insects as part of their diets. Their high fat, protein and mineral content make them a nutritious alternative to meat, fish and other common dietary staples.
More than 1 900 insect species are edible for human consumption, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation reports, with the most popular insects being beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants.
Insects could be a particularly important food source for undernourished children because most species contain high levels of fatty acids.
Aside from their nutritional value, farming insects could considerably benefit the environment. According to the FAO, insects emit fewer greenhouse gases and need less land or water than cattle when farmed.
As cold-blooded creatures they are “very efficient” in converting feed to protein, needing 12 times less feed than cattle in order to produce the same amount. They also feed on human and animal waste, and can transform this into protein.
In some areas of the world, including Bali and Japan, insects such as dragonflies and fly larvae are considered a delicacy.
While many Brits may feel squeamish at the thought of eating bugs, the Mexican chain restaurant Wahaca, which recently trialled a dish of fried grasshoppers at its South Bank restaurant, said it was impressed by diners' responses to the experiment and may put the dish on its main menu. - The Independent