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Why You Should Eat Insects and How You Can Start

The United Nations recently issued a report on future food insecurity as the world's population continues to grow. We've already hit seven billion people on this planet, and if we want everyone to get the nutrients and vitamins they need, we can't keep eating the way we are.

One of the most important parts of a diet is protein, which is primarily found in meat and dairy. Protein is also one of the most expensive kinds of food, particularly if you get the majority of your protein through beef or similar kinds of red meat. It not only costs money to raise the grain to feed the animals, but it also wastes a lot of water, and only around 40% of herded animals are edible anyway. All in all, it's a terribly unsustainable practice.

The UN's answer to this problem? Eat insects instead.

Before you start gagging, consider the fact that cultures all around the world consider insects as delicacies or delicious snacks. The Chinese stay warm in the winter with hot ant soup, the Vietnamese like their bee larvae sauteed in butter, Cambodians eat their tarantulas roasted, the Japanese enjoy boiled wasps with rice, and a midge fly cake is popular all over Africa.

Still not convincing you? Let me throw out some facts. Insects are almost 80% edible, they're incredibly easy and inexpensive to farm and raise, and they pack a lot of protein in a tiny package. Because of all these benefits, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has deemed insects a whopping twelve times more efficient than red meat at simply being food. At the end of the day, they're definitely the bigger bang for your buck.

Still not liking the idea of eating a creepy-crawly? Environmentalist Pat Crowley thinks he has the answer for you. Crowley recently launched a company named Chapul (Aztec for "cricket") in the US, hoping to create a market for insect foods. The company knows that people are grossed out by seeing bugs, so instead, it makes a special energy bar. The main ingredient? Crickets, for protein, but ground into a flour and masked by flavors like coconut and peanut butter. 

Crowley admits that his company is small, but it's growing every month. So far, their target audience are people who want sustainable food. Crowley is hopeful, though, that one day, foods like Chapul's energy bars will be standard fare in every grocery store, and we'll all be eating bugs.

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