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Florentino Azpetia, chef at Girasoles restaurant in Mexico City, prepares a grasshopper taco (taco de chapulines), a typical Mexican delicacy, in the restaurant's kitchen 19 October 2001. Maggots (gusanos del maguey), grasshoppers (chapulines) and white ant eggs (escamoles) form part of a Mexican specialty cuisine which features over 500 edible insects and bugs.
Too much of the world struggles with hunger. A warming planet and growing population means that getting everyone the nutrients they need without causing environmental damage will be even more difficult.
As scientists experiment with solutions like growing meat in vitro and genetically modifying foods, another proposal has been making the rounds: broadening our definition of food to include insects (and seaweed) as staples. While some countries already munch on grasshoppers and mealworms, here in the United States bug-eating sits solidly in the realm of game shows like "Fear Factor." The reality is that insects are a "superfood" -- high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and low in fat and cholesterol. They are also highly sustainable, meaning that ten grams of feed produces nine grams of edible insect meat. Not only that, but insects thrive on things like paper and industrial waste, so feeding them could equate to a form of recycling.
Would you be willing to switch to eating chapulin (grasshopper) tacos if it meant staving off an impending food crisis?
Josh Schonwald, Chicago-based journalist, author, "The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food"
Florence Dunkel, associate professor of entomology at Montana State University; editor-in-chief, The Food Insects Newsletter