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Are Bugs Going To Become Popular As Food In The Future

As any fan of late-night B-movies is aware, “Soylent Green is people!” Yes, they actually made a film in which people of the overpopulated dystopian future were fed processed food rations—Soylent Green—made from human hamburger. While the Soylent scenario is unlikely to play out any time soon, it’s entirely possible people will someday be munching on Soylent stink bugs, granulated grasshoppers, and crispy-fried caterpillars.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the only way to feed the 9 billion people expected on Planet Earth by 2050 is to include edible insects in the human diet. Even as you are chewing on that tidbit of information, scientists are searching for ways to raise bugs for burgers on an industrial scale. And while that might leave a bitter taste for those of us in industrial society, around 2 billion people worldwide are already including insects in their diet. That’s nearly 1/3 of humanity.

The most commonly consumed insects include beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, mealworms, and crickets. People also eat cicadas, termites, and dragonflies. These critters make for a highly nutritious food source rich in “good” fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. And talk about fiber! Those exoskeletons are sure to keep you regular.

All kidding aside, people are running successful edible cricket farms in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. In Africa industrial-scale enterprises are turning black soldier flies into meal for food. And in China specially prepared worms are considered a delicacy.

While insects can provide healthy alternatives to fish, chicken, pork, and beef, most people in the developed world are not ready to make the trade. However, in recent years, foodies from Los Angeles to Paris have been pushing bugs as an eco-friendly alternative food source; raising bugs for food does not require a lot of precious land or scarce water. As the population grows and space to produce food shrinks, we might all belly up for bugs in the future. Stranger things have happened.