Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Insect Meals 'Good Idea' Says UN Food Agency....

Bugs are nutritious and environmentally-friendly and could help future food problems, according to a UN report.
Insects are a virtually "untapped" source of food for people, livestock and pets, according to the United Nations.

Two billion people already supplement their diets with creepy-crawlies and insect farming could be one way to address food security, a UN agency has said.

Its 200-page report Edible Insects says many of the creatures are high in protein, good fats and minerals.

It suggests that large-scale mechanisation of "insect farming" would also bring environmental benefits.

Insects are "extremely efficient", needing only 2kg of feed to produce 1kg of tasty insect mass, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In comparison, cattle need 8kg of feed to produce 1kg of meat.

Another advantage over their bovine friends is the amount of "emissions" produced.

"Insects produce a fraction of emissions such as methane, ammonia, climate-warming greenhouse gases and manure, all of which contaminate the environment," said the FAO.

"We are not saying that people should be eating bugs," said the organisation's Eva Muller.

"We are saying that insects are just one resource provided by forests, and insects are pretty much untapped for their potential for food, and especially for feed."

New laws and food safety standards would be needed to encourage increased insect snacking in developed countries, the FAO said.

However, it added that attitudes appeared to be changing with more "novel food stores and restaurants cropping up in developed countries".

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has been known to cook with insects and in 2010 produced an "edible garden" for one of his television shows.

More than 1,900 insect species are consumed by humans worldwide, mostly in parts of Asia and Africa.

The most consumed insects are: beetles (31%); caterpillars (18%); bees, wasps and ants (14%); and grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13%).

The agency noted that its Edible Insect Programme is also examining the potential of arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions, even though they are not strictly speaking insects.

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