UN urges people to eat insects to fight world hunger

Bug salad Over 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects

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Eating more insects could help fight world hunger, according to a new UN report.

The report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution.

It notes than over 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects.

However it admits that "consumer disgust" remains a large barrier in many Western countries.

Insect nutritional value /100g

Food source Protein (g) Calcium (mg) Iron (mg)

Source: Montana State University









Dung beetle




Minced beef




Wasps, beetles and other insects are currently "underutilised" as food for people and livestock, the report says. Insect farming is "one of the many ways to address food and feed security".

"Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint," according to the report.

Nutritional value

The authors point out that insects are nutritious, with high protein, fat and mineral content.

They are "particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children".

Insects are also "extremely efficient" in converting feed into edible meat. Crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein, according to the report.

Most insects are are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases than other livestock.

The ammonia emissions associated with insect-rearing are far lower than those linked to conventional livestock such as pigs, says the report.

A festival-goers enjoys an 'insects pizza' at one of the many food stalls during the 34th edition of the Paleo festival on July 22, 2009 in Nyon. The report calls for insect dishes to be added to restaurant menus

Insects are regularly eaten by many of the world's population, but the thought may seem shocking to many Westerners.

The report suggests that the food industry could help in "raising the status of insects" by including them in new recipes and adding them to restaurant menus.

It goes on to note that in some places, certain insects are considered delicacies.

For example some caterpillars in southern Africa are seen as luxuries and command high prices.

Most edible insects are gathered in forests and serve niche markets, the report states.

It calls for improved regulation and production for using insects as 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 adds.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    It would take a long time for us to get used to the idea of eating insects, despite knowing that they're eaten elsewhere in the world. Maybe in 20 years or so it won't be considered such a big deal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    It is odd that many Westerners delight in eating certain arthropods that come out of the sea (lobster, crab, shrimp, etc) but are disgusted by the idea of eating any arthropods that come out of the sky or crawl across the land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Perhaps when we see the bug banquet for the members of the UN we may think differently. But I cannot see it catching on the thought of eating something that wriggles instead of walking does not make me hunger for this new idea. Hope you don't mind but I will pass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    A few years ago I tried insects at an event and had an allergic reaction. We weren't told that some insects give a reaction like shellfish, you have to be careful.

    I agree the "look" of insects is offputting, that's not just because they're insects, but also because many people don't associate the meat on their plate with the animal. If insect flesh was served differently it might be accepted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Hunger and starvation are not caused by a lack of food production but by the lack of money to buy food.

    Just look at the ballooning waistlines of westerners to see that they don't have a shortage of food. Therefore, how exactly will feeding grasshoppers to fat Americans help those starving in the third world?

    This report does demonstrate the massive sums of money the UN wastes though.


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