Breed-your-own insect 'revolution' for the kitchen

By Simon Sturdee ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-03-19 09:56:36

Scorpion lollipops

Eating insects-entomophagy-is not new. Humans have been doing so for thousands of years and today they are a common food in many developing countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least two billion people, with more than 1,900 species reportedly enjoyed worldwide.

In Europe, Romans and ancient Greeks ate them Aristotle was partial to cicada larvae-and some European cheeses, like mimolette in France or the Sardinian casu marzu, contain or use insects.

A few insect restaurants have sprung up in Europe and North America in recent years, and some products, ranging from salt-and-vinegar crickets to lollipops with scorpions (actually arachnids), are available.

But for the most part, Westerners generally see bugs as a nuisance, not as nutrition.

This is a shame, Unger says, since insects are not only tasty but a more sustainable source of protein than traditional farmed livestock-and are vital to feeding the world's growing population.

"Compared to beef you need only 10 percent of the land to grow mealworms and you need only around a quarter of the feed that it typically takes to grow the equivalent amount of beef," she says.

Indeed in 2013 the FAO noted the "huge potential" of insects, not only for feeding people but also livestock, although it cautioned more research was needed.

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