A policy paper on the eating of insects is being formally considered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Professor Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the author of the paper, says eating insects has advantages: “There is a meat crisis,” he said. “The world population will grow from six billion now to nine billion by 2050 and we know people are consuming more meat. Twenty years ago the average was 20kg, it is now 50kg, and will be 80kg in 20 years. If we continue like this we will need another Earth…Most of the world already eats insects. It is only in the western world that we don’t. Psychologically we have a problem with it. I don’t know why, as we eat shrimps, which are very comparable.”

More than a thousand different types of insects are eaten in various cultures around the world. Breeding commonly eaten insects such as locusts, crickets and meal worms, emits 10 times less methane than livestock. The advantages of this diet include insects’ high levels of protein, vitamin and mineral content.

Locusts and crickets are particularly rich in calcium and are a valuable part of many Asian diets which do not include diary products.

An insect food stall in Bangkok (image by Takoradee via Wikimedia)
An insect food stall in Bangkok
(image by Takoradee via Wikimedia)