If you're having breakfast, maybe you should turn down the radio. Because I just read the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's new report on world hunger. Their conclusion? We should be eating more…insects.
The report says insects are "a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high protein, vitamin, mineral and fiber content." In fact, insects are healthier than chicken, beef or even fish.
If the idea of crunching a cricket makes you lose your appetite, maybe you have a cultural bias, since bugs are eaten in Asia, Mexico, Africa and Brazil. Ants and grasshoppers are popular, but 1,900 insect species are consumed around the world.
That's a lot of bugs.
But the world has a lot of mouths to feed — population will hit nine billion by 2050. And in a world facing not just starvation but global warming, insect farming uses less land and produces 10 times less greenhouse gas than cattle farming. And with over fished oceans, our planet's pantry is running low. Adding insects – the earth's most numerous creatures – to the menu makes sense. And when it comes to eating local, bugs from your backyard is as local as it gets.
Committed as I am to ending world hunger and global warming, I don't think I can get into this food fad. It took me years to try sashimi. Though eating an earwig may be enough to turn you vegan, really, any dead animal-based food is kind of a gross-out if you consider it.
So, while I don't see eating a mosquito burrito, hornet helper or a roast beetle sandwich anytime soon, I do admire the U.N.'s creative approach to solving a pressing problem that is really no laughing matter.
With this new report, maybe the complaint "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup" should result in an additional charge.
Insects…the other white meat?
With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.
Richard Swerdlow is an elementary school teacher in San Francisco.