Beetles, ants, tarantulas, and mealworms. It’s not an episode of “Fear Factor” — it’s a movement by the United Nations to encourage people towards entomophagy, or consumption of insects, and the organization just released over 200 pages of good reasons to try it.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report in May encouraging people around the world to incorporate insects into their diets due to the increasing costs of producing animal protein, food insecurity, and population growth, among other factors. It’s also beneficial to the environment, as it lessens the number of pests in the wild without the use of toxic insecticides.
Insects factor into the diet of at least two billion people, and over 1,900 species have been deemed edible so far. According to National Geographic, insects are eaten in 36 countries in Africa, 29 in Asia, 23 in the Americas, and 11 in Europe. The FAO says that out of all insects consumed globally, 31 percent are beetles, which have more protein than most other insects. Caterpillars follow at 18 percent; mopane caterpillars, which are common in the southern part of Africa, have over five times as much iron as beef per 100 grams of dry weight. They’re also high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
October 14 is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day — but here we salute nine countries whose citizens are brave enough to eat insects without a chocolatey barrier.
Dragonflies are popular in Bali, although catching them is complicated and requires special techniques. The insects are sometimes cooked on a charcoal grill, but another method involves removing the wings and boiling the dragonfies with ginger, shallots, and coconut milk.