An Unexpected Food That May Save Us

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You may want to think twice before squashing the next creepy crawler in your home. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' recent report, "Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security," people in both developing and developed countries should be looking to bugs as an important food source. The report offers three main reasons: health, the environment and people's livelihoods.

In terms of nutrition, bugs could truly replace popular proteins such as fish or chicken. They are packed with healthy fats, protein, calcium, iron and zinc.

The environmental impact of eating bugs would also be notable. Farming bugs for food creates far less greenhouse gas than farming livestock and fields would not have to be cleared to make room for livestock. Plus, insects require much less feed than livestock. According to the FAO report, "crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein."

The report calls out the social and economic effects of using insects as a widespread food source. Insect farming does not require a lot of technology and therefore does not require a great amount of capital. Thus, it could be practiced by those in poor economic situations. Also, the limited space requirements make insect farming an option in both rural and urban areas.

Edible insects are quite abundant and varied. There are more than 1,900 types of bugs known to be edible. Most interestingly, the FAO also reports that Mexico contains the most species of edible bugs with 549 species (more than double Africa's 250 species), but that countries in Asia and Africa still consume the most insects.

According to Julieta Ramos-Elourdy of the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in an interview with CNN's Eatocracy, Mexican insects are particularly rich in protein. Mexican grasshoppers are perhaps the best nutritional option as 100 grams of them hold 80 grams of protein and only four grams of fat, and grasshoppers are typically only $4 per pound.

While insect eating still remains taboo in many cultures, more than 2 billion people worldwide regularly consume insects, and it turns out they may have the right idea.

check out the slideshow below to learn which bugs you should try today!

Image Credit: Getty Images

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