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Updated: May 14, 2013 05:10 IST

Insects on the menu

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation has hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other bugs as an underutilised food source.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation has hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other bugs as an underutilised food source.

The U.N. food agency has recommended insects as a nutritious, ecological food source

The United Nations has new weapons to fight hunger, boost nutrition and reduce pollution, and they might be crawling or flying near you right now — edible insects.

The Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilised food source for people, livestock and pets.

A 200-page report, released at a news conference at the U.N. agency’s Rome headquarters, says 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects, which are high in protein and minerals, and have environmental benefits.

Insects are “extremely efficient” in converting feed into edible meat, the agency said. On an average, they can convert 2 kg (4.4 pounds) of feed into 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of insect mass. In comparison, cattle require 8 kg (17.6 pounds) of feed to produce a kilo of meat.

Most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed, the U.N. agency said.

Currently, most edible insects are gathered in forests and the extant insect farming is mostly family-run and serves niche markets.

“Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly,” the agency said, adding they leave 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”.

Insects can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and are a source of fibre.

The agency noted that its Edible Insect Program was also examining the potential of arachnids — such as spiders and scorpions — although these are not, strictly speaking, insects.

University biologists have analysed the nutritional value of edible insects. Some of these — such as certain beetles, ants, crickets and grasshoppers — come close to lean red meat or broiled fish in terms of protein per gram (ounce).

The report noted that some caterpillars in southern Africa and weaver ant eggs in Southeast Asia are considered delicacies and command high prices.

If you are one of those people who get queasy at the thought of consuming insects, it may interest you that you might already be eating them — we often ingest bugs inadvertently.

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Pathetic I would say. Earth does not belong to humans alone. The root cause of the problem is humans are reproducing much faster than the earth can absorb. We need to adress the root cause and not find patch work solutions.

from:  Prem Kumar
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 18:06 IST

Apart from eating insects,if we concentrate more on proper planning and
reduce wastage of food , we can feed a lot more population.Urban farming
methods, utilizing land and rain-water effectively can be suggestive

from:  Vidhi
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 16:50 IST

Dear Mr. Arun Mehta
with respect,

when you are taking about ethics, just because one has aversion to non-veg like meat, chicken and so on does not mean insects do not
have pain, suffering and humiliation. If any one is eating insects
he is not eating stone, here the insects likewise also have
pain, suffering. lets not forget that.
who ever would like to eat insects let them eat there is no compulsion, ethically all are the same.

from:  Thimiri
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 14:04 IST

Is this a Joke!!!!
When hundreds are dying of Hunger.....This is what the UN has to say
Would people eat Dogs and Cats if the UN Suggests.....
What a Looser???

from:  Dont Eat Me
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 12:48 IST

Meat eating not only causes pain, suffering and humiliation to animals but is also a major cause of deforestation and hence, global warming.Insect farming may be a welcoming move and it may be possible to create tasty and nutritious dishes from insects.From an ethical and environmental standpoint I believe that eating insects should be far better than eating chicken , mutton or beef.

from:  Arun Mehta
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 11:26 IST

A lot of cuisines treate insects as a delicacy.. even some states in india.. this is a really good recommendation.. i do fell really queasy about it tho.. maybe they should sell them as capsules or something.. chewing on a crunchy beetle doesnt sound appetizing.. maybe we should condition the next generation to readily accept this food group..

from:  Alaka
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 10:32 IST

This is not what world was meant to be. This is like asking a lion to eat grass. Population explosion will lead to even worse situation. Someday we will start eating each other. The Hindu will not publish as usual because I speak bitter truth. Alright, publish your master's will. The truth does not change.

from:  shiv shankar dayal
Posted on: May 14, 2013 at 09:55 IST
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