Bugs in Food

I grabbed a box of cereal out of my cabinet. The flakes smelled stale, but I was hungry enough. I poured a cup or two into a bowl, followed by a splash of milk. Well into my third bite, I knew that stale cereal wasn’t all I was eating. I saw thrips—slender insects commonly known as corn lice—swimming in the bottom of the bowl, extending their legs in hopes of finding a flake—like a desperate swimmer in a flood. I immediately discarded the cereal, repulsed by the other bugs I had surely already eaten. But while I didn’t always see them, I had been eating bugs my whole life. So have you.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization recently released a report [PDF] touting the nutritional and environment benefits of eating our many-legged friends (or pests), which scuttled into all corners of the media. (You can read a very thorough write-up bug eating at io9 and here at Scientific American.) The gist is that insects may end up solving a real food crisis by giving up their lives for human consumption. To most of the world, this was old news—insects are considered staples and even delicacies in many cultures. But Western media still let out an audible cringe at the thought of crunching down on chitin.

Ignorance is bliss…






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