Buggin’ out

It might be shocking to know that a large part of the world’s population eats bugs, but now the United Nations is saying that when the bedbugs bite we should just bite them right back.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

It’s an interesting concept, and one that makes me go a little ‘ick’, but the UN has a valid point. With the world’s population set to hit the nine billion mark in the next 35 to 40 years, we (the people) need to give greater consideration to how we are going to feed ourselves.

Why bugs? Well, the UN asks ‘why not bugs?’

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which put the report together, the human consumption of bugs is common in around 80 per cent of the world, including in parts of North, Central and South America, Africa, Asia and – get this – Australia and New Zealand. There are almost 2,000 species of bugs known to be served up and snacked on.

The report says that bugs provide an almost never-ending food supply, with the added bonus of being high in protein, fibre, ‘good’ fats and essential minerals. It sounds like an advertisement for one of those multivitamins.

Bugs also seem to make the ideal cuisine because they are low-maintenance when it comes to raising and harvesting when compared to more ‘conventional’ food sources such as pigs or sheep. For a start, they don’t need to consume as much to produce more, they are more environmentally friendly because they don’t emit as much greenhouse gas when compared to cows, and eating bugs would reduce ‘pests’ without the need for harmful pesticides. The report also suggests that farming bugs would create new forms of employment and income streams.

Channel Ten Australia recently highlighted on its Can of Worms program that scientists and environmentalists had joined forces to encourage us to ‘throw another bug on the barbie’, and host Chrissie Swan posed the question to her panel of guests ‘is eating insects perfectly fine or seriously wrong?’ Olympic champion cyclist, Anna Meares said that for her consuming creepy crawlies was ‘seriously wrong’ and that even though she advocated protein for muscle-building she could not imagine picking a tiny leg or antennae out of her teeth. However, when a platter of insect hor d’oeuvre was presented (including one scorpion-topped morsel) Meares couldn’t resist.

National Geographic went so far as to list the top eight bug groups we should try, saying that stinkbugs have an apple flavour and tree worms (I don’t even know what these are) are reminiscent of pork rind. That doesn’t sound so bad.

Without question most Westerners are disgusted by the practice of eating bugs and it can only be assumed that some sort of ‘strategy’ to reduce the ‘yuck’ factor and open our eyes to the wonder of eating bugs will need to be put in place if many of us are to even remotely consider the prospect. But farmers might just rejoice in the knowledge that if human consumption of bugs doesn’t take off the practice is also one of worth for feeding the animals of the land.

Good to know.

So what do you think? Have you ever eaten a bug?

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