UN urges people to eat insects

14 May 2013 10:02 am - 34     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Beetles, caterpillars and wasps could supplement diets around the world as an environmentally friendly food source if only Western consumers could get over their "disgust", the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday.

"The main message is really: 'Eat insects'", Eva Mueller, director of forest economics at the FAO, told a press conference in Rome.

"Insects are abundant and they are a valuable source of protein and minerals," she said.
"Two billion people -- a third of the world's population -- are already eating insects because they are delicious and nutritious," she said.

Also speaking at the press conference was Gabon Forestry Minister Gabriel Tchango who said: "Insect consumption is part of our daily life."

He said some insects -- like beetle larvae and grilled termites -- were considered delicacies.

"Insects contribute about 10 percent of animal protein consumed by the population," he said.

The report said insect farming was "one of the many ways to address food and feed insecurity".

"Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint," said the report, co-authored by the FAO and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

But the authors admitted that "consumer disgust remains one of the largest barriers to the adoption of insects as viable sources of protein in many Western countries".

Mueller said that brands such as yoghurt maker Danone and Italian alcoholic drinks maker Campari used dye from insects to colour their products.

It suggested that the food industry could help in "raising the status of insects" by including them in recipes and putting them on restaurant menus.

"Beetles, grasshoppers and other insects... are now showing up though on the menus of some restaurants in some European capitals," said Mueller, as she showed photo slides of crickets being used as decoration on top of high-end restaurant desserts.

The report also called for wider use of insects as feed for livestock, saying that poor regulation and under-investment currently meant it "cannot compete" with traditional sources of feed.

"The use of insects on a large scale as a feed ingredient is technically feasible, and established companies in various parts of the world are already leading the way," it added, highlighting in particular producers in China, South Africa, Spain and the United States.

"Insects can supplement traditional feed sources such as soy, maize, grains and fishmeal," it said, adding that the ones with most potential were larvae of the black soldier fly, the common housefly and the yellow mealworm.

The report also said the insects most commonly consumed by humans are beetles (31 percent), caterpillars (18 percent) and bees, wasps and ants (14 percent), followed by grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent).

The report said a total of 1,900 species of insects are consumed around the world.

It said trade in insects was thriving in cities such as Bangkok and Kinshasa and that a similar culture of insect consumption -- entomophagy -- should be established elsewhere, stressing that it was often cheaper to farm insects.

While beef has an iron content of 6.0 miligrams per 100 grams of dry weight, the iron content of locusts varies between 8.0 and and 20 miligrams per 100 grams, the report said.

It also said that insects require just two kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of insect meat compared to a ratio of 8-to-1 for beef.

The report concluded: "History has shown that dietary patterns can change quickly, particularly in a globalised world. The rapid acceptance of raw fish in the form of sushi is a good example."

"Not everybody is ready to pop a bug in their mouth," Mueller said. "It will probably take a while. But some people are already doing it." (AFP)

  Comments - 34

  • shaib Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:57 AM

    Another way of managing cost of living.

    They way things are happening,one day pest control companies have to close down their business.

    CriticRoshan Tuesday, 14 May 2013 12:02 PM

    Do you mean to say what ever UN recommends to eat? Next they may say to eat all the garbage what we throw out.

    Nims Wednesday, 15 May 2013 11:44 AM

    Banki Moon has already eaten the worm and struggling to digest it

    JG Wednesday, 15 May 2013 02:46 AM

    Halal certificate needed?

    Sugath Ekanayake Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:06 AM

    When insects are over soil will be a better option.

    Dalu Banda Tuesday, 14 May 2013 12:17 PM

    What about the disinfected "human excreta"

    Pathi Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:07 AM

    Not to worry, we all usually eat all these insects without notice, when taking food from most of our restaurants. Thanks to PHI's.

    Crazy Coot Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:33 AM

    They do in any case. They must have anticipated this situation long ago!!

    Punny Pellow Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:38 AM

    'Eat Insects' or 'Eat and Sects'?.

    IOSirisena Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:41 AM

    im sure there are worms in the malu paans we eat as well so nothing new here.

    Cee Jay Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:48 AM

    Out of the 2 billion that eat insects, 1.5 billion are chinese and the rest are Cats and Birds !!!!!

    saman Wednesday, 15 May 2013 03:49 AM

    Fried Grass Hoppers are actually quite nice, I must say!

    ghamerhussain Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:04 AM

    Good for Brain?

    Shifaz Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:08 AM

    i think the world is going back to the stone ages...

    OMG Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:23 AM

    Prawns and koonisso are types of insects that lives in water.

    If we can eat them what is the big fuss about eating cockroaches?

    Sim Tuesday, 14 May 2013 02:16 PM

    We have them in our bread, so why worry.

    upul Tuesday, 14 May 2013 02:15 PM

    Especially Rats for them.

    josh911 Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:39 AM

    I'm sure cockroaches must be running for their lives when they see u coming :-)

    fact Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:44 AM

    yeah, u eat the insects above water.. we eat the insects in the water...

    Cyril Alwis Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:52 AM

    First give to your children and your wife. If they are satisfied, we will consider again.


    Calistus Jayatilleke Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:59 AM

    At the rate things are going on here when it comes to cost of living, this will give a good impetus for our planners too to exhort the people to eat all sorts of worms and insects which are found aplenty in Sri Lanka. Those who are even willing to eat grass and poonac on account of fake patriotism, might welcome this idea with both hands.

    Upali Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:01 AM

    Hope they will soon find cockroaches, rats, lizards, ants and other such creatures living in homes edible and nutritious. Ha ha.. no more insecticides, no more pollusion, no more dirty homes etc.etc.

    Nims Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:09 AM

    Then name the insects and worms as protected animals

    sss Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:10 AM

    protein deficiency is specially relevant to countries like SL. _-stunted growth and low IQ. But our politicians export even the available protein (like fish) to get dollars for their duty-free imports.

    sharoncalladine Wednesday, 15 May 2013 12:57 AM

    i dont beleve it they cant be serious what next

    kaush Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:16 AM

    Once you pop you can’t stop……yummy yummy . when u go Bangkok try and see roasted cockroaches.

    ANTON Wednesday, 15 May 2013 12:59 AM


    modabuster Wednesday, 15 May 2013 11:06 AM

    Come home. I'll stuff you with cockroaches too.

    sharoncalladine Wednesday, 15 May 2013 01:05 AM

    they must be mad

    Arm chair critic Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:14 AM

    what if some one starts worshiping insects too?

    Dee Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:31 AM

    this makes sense. provided it is not poisonous it should be good. anyway whats so 'not yucky' about eating a dead fish,chicken,pig,cow,lamb,goat or any seafood? its all a stupid mentality, if eating a once living animal is not good or 'inhuman' lets all go veg.

    Suq Madique Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:40 AM

    Please immediately add this to the parliamentary canteen menu....at subsidized prices of course

    xlntgson Wednesday, 15 May 2013 11:19 AM

    High end cricket dessert for winning Cricketers! (Delicacies never solve food crisis!)

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