Stripe Caterpillar

Photo Credit: Madmaven

Put aside the ick factor and consider this: for many people around the world, eating insects is neither strange, disgusting nor exotic. Bugs are their food, their meals, what they and their ancestors have been eating for ages. Why?

Number one – the buggers are packed with powerful nutrition. Comparing iron content, beef has  6 mg per 100 grams of dry weight and Mopane caterpillars have an astounding 31 mg of iron per100 grams. Traditionally eaten in southern Africa, these plump caterpillars are also an excellent source of  potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, manganese and copper, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Number two: at least five million children a year die because their meager diets contain so little protein and calories. According to Frank Franklin, director of pediatric nutrition at the University of Alabama, a protein processed substance from edible insects could offer a less expensive solution to Plumpy/Nut, a peanut based food given around the world to children suffering from malnutrition.

Number three: What’s more friendly to our environment: Bugs or the vertebrates Westerners prefer?  Which take up less space? Which emit far less pollutant gases? No contest. Bugs win hands down.

Number four: As world population expands, land and resources needed to sustain cattle and pig production will only shrink. How will all those new hungry mouths be fed? It seems plausible that new sources of protein for a steadily increasing population will have to be found.

Number five is the health factor. Cattle and pigs measure high in saturated fat content. Bugs do not. Which means if people eat more bugs than livestock, they will suffer less heart disease and fewer premature deaths.

Giving up their hamburger and steaks won’t be easy for Westerners. But some are already entering this new bug eating terrain. In Montreal students from McGill University are in the process of creating a protein-rich flour made from insects. They’re starting with grasshoppers. Hm…Grasshopper bread anyone?

More Food Morsels: