Coming Soon to Your Next Memorial Day Picnic -- Insects as Food and not Pests?
"Insects provide food at low environmental cost, contribute positively to livelihoods, and play a fundamental role in nature."
Insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people according to a recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization: Edible Insects, Future prospects for food and feed security. http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf
Over 1,900 species have reportedly been used as food. The most commonly consumed insects are beetles (Coleoptera) (31 percent), caterpillars (Lepidoptera) (18 percent) and bees, wasps and ants (Hymenoptera) (14 percent).
Highlights from the report:
- Insects are a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fibre and mineral content.
- The environmental benefits of rearing insects for food and feed are founded on the high feed conversion efficiency of insects. Crickets, for example, require only 2 kilograms of feed for every 1 kilogram of bodyweight gain.
- Because of their nutritional composition, accessibility, simple rearing techniques and quick growth rates, insects can offer a cheap and efficient opportunity to counter nutritional insecurity by providing emergency food and by improving livelihoods and the quality of traditional diets among vulnerable people.
- Insects offer a significant opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern science in both developed and developing countries.
"Insect rearing for food and feed remains a sector in its infancy, and key future challenges will likely emerge as the field evolves. As such, readers are encouraged to contact the authors with feedback on this book. Such contributions will undoubtedly assist the future development of the sector."
While it's unlikely many of us in the US will be dining on insects during this year's Memorial Day picnics, maybe someday soon those pesky ants will be forming the basis of grandma's famous potato salad.