4 February 2014, 04:07

Insects to save humanity from starvation - UN

Insects to save humanity from starvation - UN

Insects can become a solution to the world food crisis. This opinion is maintained by experts from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). They believe that beetles, crickets and larvae are nourishing and cheap, so if they become part of the human diet it could save mankind form hunger and many other social and economic problems. However, this FAO initiative has a mixed reception, not only in the West but even in countries where insects are traditionally considered a special treat.

FAO experts insistently recommend people to eat insects and offer them to pets. It has been proved that beetles, bees and the like are quite capable of substituting for meat because they consist of a lot of healthy macro- and microelements. In this connection, FAO urges everyone to start eating this kind of food. To achieve this aim in countries that have not yet acquired a taste for such food, it is recommended to open product-oriented restaurants or at least to put a couple of items made from beetles and larvae on the menu of ordinary restaurants. Still, this initiative has not met with a mass positive response. The modern human would rather swallow bioactive agents in pills than eat flies and butterflies, dietician Yulia Chekhonina believes.

"This idea is not likely to find support in countries where there is no tradition to eat such food, because the nutritional science does not stand still", she says. "At present, a lot of new food items rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals are produced synthetically. If they are manufactured and sold they are much more likely to find a ready market than the highlighted insects. There is no need to go back to primeval times when humans ate practically everything that moved. Sure enough, this habit still exists in some countries but anyway the future belongs to high technologies."

People have been eating insects since time immemorial. In one of the three books of ancient Maya deciphered by Russian scholar Yuri Knorozov, chieftains discuss the taste of spring larvae. Those recipes were forgotten in America later but now they are trying to revive the Pre-Columbian era cuisine there, food expert Andrey Kuspits says.

"Mexicans make water-fly hamburgers", notes Kuspits. "They catch flies, dry them, grind them, mix them with egg and pepper and make black-coloured hamburgers that taste very nice. For Russians this sounds very strange. But, for example, lobsters and crayfish were served to prisoners in 19th century institutions. The reason is that at that time fish was highly valued and crustaceans were plentiful and considered to be unclean food. Now they are a gourmet item."

Experts believe that everything is rooted in mental perception. Some people find blue cheese a delicacy and for others it is something filthy, only capable of causing indigestion. The same is with insects: some people turn green at the thought that some creature with horns and chelae can be eaten, and others see no real difference between shrimps and locusts.

By the way, now insects are more and more often used as ingredients for various food items. Europeans have already appreciated pizza with crickets and burgers with grasshoppers. Chances are that soon insects will gain as much popularity as sea food. But in this case the price for flies and caterpillars may soar up. Then FAO’s main idea to solve the world food crisis with the help of insects will come to naught.

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