To eat or not to eat, that is the question.
According to a new study found by the Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, one major and readily available source of nutritious and protein-rich food that comes from forests are insets. The FAO, which is ran by the United Nations, also mentioned in the study that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people.
Most insect consumers come from the countries of Asia, Africa, and South America, whereas majority of the people from the Western countries are reluctant to even consider eating insects. Westerners perceive the practice of insect consumption to be associated with primitive behavior, according to FAO study.
For human biology sophomore Emily Toupin, insects isn’t something normally found in her diet and believes many students stray away from eating insects due to the American culture.
“I think it will be weird for people from around here to just start eating insects all of a sudden when they haven’t done so before,” Toupin said. “But when you’ve been raised to eat insects your whole life, than I can see why people do it, especially when it’s healthy for you.”
Richard Merritt, MSU Professor in the Dept. of Entomology, has recently taken a trip to South America and said the insects there are tasty.
“You can go to bars in Costa Rica and they will sell you toasted leafcutter ants to eat with your beers,” Merritt said. “They taste somewhere along the line of potato chips.”
According to the FAO study the most consumed insects are: beetles (31 percent); caterpillars (18 percent); bees, wasps and ants (14 percent); and grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent).
Insects are rich in protein and good fats, and high in calcium, iron and zinc, creating a healthier choice then typical snack foods such as peanuts.
Center for Integrative Studies and General Science professor Ryan Kimbirauskas said the people in America will first have to get over the gross factor in order to consume insects.
“I think our economy in our country is still very strongly associated with the agriculture industry,” Kimbirauskas said. “It’s going to be hard for the people in America to make a complete switch from eating chicken, beef, or pork as their source of protein to eating insects.”
But Kimbirauskas thinks in the next twenty years there will be an increase in the willingness of certain people in our country to eat insects.
“People are travelling a lot more and are being exposed to different things,” Kimbirauskas said. “People will maybe come back with a sense like ‘I am reducing my footprint by eating a protein that is more environmentally sustainable’.”