Bugs: Food of the future?

Fancy a Big Mac made of bugs? Don’t stick your tongue out — it could be the food of the future.
As food resources get more expensive due to the increasing global population, it’s not surprising that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is formally considering a policy paper to promote insects as food to the world. FAO held a conference in 2008 in Thailand on the theme “Forest Insects as Food: Humans Bite Back,” to push for greater development of insects as food sources and, in their 2013 world congress, will further discuss the subject.

In the UN paper, the author, Dutch Professor Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in Holland, argues that bugs have high nutritional value, use less land and need less feed, thus are cheaper to farm and would produce far less greenhouse gases than current livestock. Health risks are also lower, as being biologically different from humans, insects are less vulnerable to contagious diseases like mad cow disease.



Food of the future.
Eating creepy crawlies and grubs might sound like something straight out of Fear Factor for some, but for people in some countries, bugs are as common as fast food.
Moviegoers in South America eat roasted ants instead of popcorn, and in Mexico, it’s considered good luck if the agave worm in tequila bottles ends up in your glass. One man’s meat is certainly another man’s poison.
In Asia, the Thais, Laotians and Cambodians think nothing of snacking on fried grasshoppers, crickets, locusts or water bugs. Dragonfly boiled in coconut milk is a delicacy in Bali, and hachinoko, or boiled bee larvae, is a traditional Japanese dish.



Chinese people are known to eat “anything that moves” so finding locals delighting in insect snacks and delicacies shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just head to a local street market such as the one in Tianjin, Hangzhou, Canton or the Wangfujing Night Market in Beijing for a weird and wonderful array. Silkworm cocoons, cicada larvae, fried locusts, crickets and grasshoppers and eight-legged critters such as scorpions, tarantulas and spiders are a common sight.



Beondegi or silkworm pupae is a popular snack for South Koreans. They can be bought on the street, are served in bars and restaurants as appetisers, and are even canned. Beondegi can be eaten boiled, steamed, stewed or stir-fried.


The Japanese have been eating insects for centuries, especially aquatic insects which were an important source of protein. Restaurants in Tokyo and many parts of Japan still offer various insect-based dishes such as hachinoko (boiled bee larvae), Inago no Tsukudani (stewed grasshoppers or locusts in sweet soy sauce), zazamushi (aquatic insect larvae), semi (fried cicadas) and sangi (silkworm pupae; known as beondegi in Korea).

 

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