UN: To fight hunger, eat more insects

Kristen Butler,
Edible leafcutter ants. (CC/Luisfi)
Edible leafcutter ants. (CC/Luisfi)

Edible insects are "rich in protein, they’re rich in fat, and they’re also rich in vitamins and minerals," said said Eva Muller, Director of the Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Beetles, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, wasps and more have been put forward as food sources of the future. "Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint,” the report said.


FAO is holding the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome this week, and on Monday a report was presented on the benefits of using insects as a food source for both humans and livestock.

The book "Edible Insects: future prospects for feed and food security" was launched at the conference, after years of compiling a database of the insects people eat around the world.

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The protein in many insects can be about the same as lean red meat or fish, but the insects require far less feed to produce the same quantity of meat as a cow, for example.

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,” and called on the restaurant industry for help “raising the status of insects” by putting them on their menus.


Insects currently eaten by about two billion people worldwide are collected, not farmed. The report noted that mainly fish-bait producers have insect farming experience.

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“We have realized that there is really a huge potential there that hasn’t been very well explored,” said Ms. Muller, who said she believes the publication will be “groundbreaking.”

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