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  • For centuries,

  • people have consumed bugs,

  • everything from beetles

  • to caterpillars,

  • locusts,

  • grasshoppers,

  • termites,

  • and dragonflies.

  • The practice even has a name:

  • entomophagy.

  • Early hunter-gatherers probably learned

  • from animals that foraged

  • for protein-rich insects

  • and followed suit.

  • As we evolved

  • and bugs became part of our dietary tradition,

  • they fulfilled the role

  • of both staple food

  • and delicacy.

  • In ancient Greece,

  • cicadas were considered luxury snacks.

  • And even the Romans found beetle larvae

  • to be scrumptious.

  • Why have we lost our taste for bugs?

  • The reason for our rejection is historical,

  • and the story probably begins

  • around 10,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent,

  • a place in the Middle East

  • that was a major birthplace of agriculture.

  • Back then, our once-nomadic ancestors

  • began to settle in the Crescent.

  • And as they learned to farm crops

  • and domesticate animals there,

  • attitudes changed,

  • rippling outwards towards Europe

  • and the rest of the western world.

  • As farming took off,

  • people might have spurned bugs as mere pests

  • that destroyed their crops.

  • Populations grew,

  • and the West became urbanized,

  • weakening connections with our foraging past.

  • People simply forgot their bug-rich history.

  • Today, for people not accustomed to entomophagy,

  • bugs are just an irritant.

  • They sting and bite

  • and infest our food.

  • We feel an "ick factor" associated with them

  • and are disgusted

  • by the prospect of cooking insects.

  • Almost 2,000 insect species are turned into food,

  • forming a big part of everyday diets

  • for two billion people around the world.

  • Countries in the tropics are the keenest consumers

  • because culturally it's acceptable.

  • Species in those regions are also large,

  • diverse,

  • and tend to congregate in groups or swarms

  • that make them easy to harvest.

  • Take Cambodia in southeast Asia

  • where huge tarantulas are gathered,

  • fried,

  • and sold in the marketplace.

  • In southern Africa,

  • the juicy mopane worm is a dietary staple,

  • simmered in a spicy sauce

  • or eaten dried and salted.

  • And in Mexico, chopped jumiles

  • are toasted with garlic, lemon, and salt.

  • Bugs can be eaten whole to make up a meal

  • or ground into flour, powder, and paste

  • to add to food.

  • But it's not all about taste.

  • They're also healthy.

  • In fact, scientists say entomophagy

  • could be a cost-effective solution

  • for developing countries that are food insecure.

  • Insects can contain up to 80% protein,

  • the body's vital building blocks,

  • and are also high in energy-rich fat,

  • fiber,

  • and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

  • Did you know that most edible insects

  • contain the same amount

  • or even more mineral iron than beef,

  • making them a huge, untapped resource

  • when you consider that iron deficiency

  • is currently the most common nutritional problem

  • in the world?

  • The mealworm is another nutritious example.

  • The yellow beetle larvae are native to America

  • and easy to farm.

  • They have a high vitamin content,

  • loads of healthy minerals,

  • and can contain up to 50% protein,

  • almost as much as in an equivalent amount of beef.

  • To cook, simply saute in butter and salt

  • or roast and drizzle with chocolate

  • for a crunchy snack.

  • What you have to overcome in "ick factor,"

  • you gain in nutrition

  • and taste.

  • Indeed, bugs can be delicious.

  • Mealworms taste like roasted nuts.

  • Locusts are similar to shrimp.

  • Crickets, some people say,

  • have an aroma of popcorn.

  • Farming insects for food

  • also has less environmental impact

  • than livestock farms do

  • because insects emit far less greenhouse gas

  • and use up less space, water, and food.

  • Socioeconomically, bug production

  • could uplift people in developing countries

  • since insect farms can be small scale,

  • highly productive,

  • and yet relatively inexpensive to keep.

  • Insects can also be turned

  • into more sustainable food for livestock

  • and can be reared on organic waste,

  • like vegetable peelings,

  • that might otherwise just end up rotting in landfills.

  • Feeling hungry yet?

  • Faced with a plate of fried crickets,

  • most people today would still recoil,

  • imagining all those legs and feelers

  • getting stuck between their teeth.

  • But think of a lobster.

  • It's pretty much just a giant insect

  • with legs and feelers galore

  • that was once regarded

  • as an inferior, repulsive food.

  • Now, lobster is a delicacy.

  • Can the same paradigm shift happen for bugs?

  • So, give it a try!

  • Pop that insect into your mouth,

  • and savor the crunch.

For centuries,

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B2 US TED-Ed insect protein dietary taste people

【TED-Ed】Connect to YouTube No thanks Should we eat bugs? - Emma Bryce

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    Go Tutor posted on 2014/01/06
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