India's Famine Solution: We'll Eat Bugs

FAO discusses farming insects for food

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 14, 2014 12:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Hopefully people in India like munching on crickets and other, um, delicacies. As the country's Food and Agriculture Organization warns a global famine will strike in 50 years, scientists are experimenting with an interesting source of alternative protein: bugs. "We are now doing a lot of work on edible insects," says a professor who has studied 29 different insect species included in the diet of the Bodo tribe in Assam. An FAO report notes bugs like caterpillars, termites, beetles, and grasshoppers have a high nutritional value that could match other kinds of meat, Quartz reports. Plus, insects are already part of traditional diets for two billion people worldwide, according to the report.

So how do you feed a country like India with bugs? The answer is large-scale insect farms, FAO says, adding that such a diet would be environmentally friendly and cheaper than other proteins. As for the Bodos, "they do not have much inhibition about insects. It is an age-old tradition for them," the professor says. But one member of the country's Dalit population, which has also eaten bugs, notes they did so "out of compulsion ... If you ask them to go back to eating just that, they will tell you to go to hell." Maybe this will help: "Salty and sweet" preserves made from leftover silkworm pupae apparently taste like prawns, a scientist says. The Waco Tribune-Herald notes the trend toward creepy-crawly meals is also playing out in the US.

Dried insects and insect spices are displayed at the Wellcome Collection in London, Tuesday, April 23, 2013.
Dried insects and insect spices are displayed at the Wellcome Collection in London, Tuesday, April 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
In this Nov. 11, 2011 photo, Shaiyan Feisal, 8, of Pittsburgh, eats a waxworm dish called cinnamon bug crunch as visitors sample Thanksgiving-inspired foods made with insects at the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans.
In this Nov. 11, 2011 photo, Shaiyan Feisal, 8, of Pittsburgh, eats a waxworm dish called cinnamon bug crunch as visitors sample Thanksgiving-inspired foods made with insects at the Audubon Insectarium...   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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