October 16 is World Food Day, an occasion devoted to talking about food security. An estimated 815 million people suffered from chronic hunger in 2016, according to figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Hunger affects men and women, children and the elderly, those living in rural and urban areas in nearly every country in the world.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for ensuring that food gets to those who need it most. But a 2013 United Nations report suggests that insects may help ease this worldwide epidemic. “Insect farming is “one of the many ways to address food and feed security… Insects are everywhere, and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint,” says the report.
That’s right – INSECTS.
Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects. More than one-fourth of the world’s population eats insects, from beetles to meal worms to dragonflies. One important reason for this culinary trend is that insects are packed with nutrients. Crickets, for example, contain approximately 21 grams of protein per 100 grams of cricket, while ground beef contains about 26 grams per 100 grams of meat. Insects contain as much iron as beef, and are also a good source of calcium, vitamin B12, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Will munching on insects and insect-fortified food products end hunger? It’s doubtful. But if it can get us even a little closer to feeding the world’s population, why wouldn’t we try?