Why We Eat Bugs: A Recommendation From the U.N.

A segment on our award-winning TV show "SoCal Connected" has been produced in tandem with this story. Watch it now here.

There's a food movement afoot. It hasn't quite reached the mainstream in the U.S., but it's growing in popularity, just a little bit every day. What is this new trend? Eating bugs.

When tackling this subject, we have to address our own cultural bias: bug-eating may be "weird" in the U.S. and Europe, but in the vast majority of the world it's no big deal. Perhaps not a staple, but insects are found in soups across Asia, in tacos and quesadillas in Central America, and at snack stands in Africa, right next to the chips.

Lately we're finding the critters on North American menus, too. Los Angeles has a large Oaxacan population: grasshoppers are pretty standard in that Mexican state, and they Oaxacan restaurants here serve them. More upscale, hipper spots like Petty Cash Taqueria and The Bazaar and Night + Market have various bugs on their menus. However, trendiness aside, we might soon be compelled to incorporate bugs into our United Statesian diets.

By 2030, the planet is slated to have a population of nine million people. We probably can't continue to eat the same way we do know, with our reliance on meat as the main event. But bugs? Bugs offer up a lot of protein without a lot of pollution. For example, pigs produce anywhere from 10-100 times more greenhouse gases per kilogram than mealworms.

Currently, bugs are part of the diet of around two billion people. About 1900 types of bugs are consumed by humans.It's purely cultural conditioning that North Americans haven't already started eating bugs.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report last year along these lines. If you want the full rundown -- all the reasons why you should incorporate bugs into your diet as a protein source -- you can read it here.

Want to try some professionally-prepared bugs in L.A.? Here's our list of some places where they can be found.

About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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