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A man holds deep-fried scorpions on a stick In Beijing, China, deep-fried scorpions on a stick are a tasty snack. (Catherine Karnow / Corbise)

Bug Bites

Many people all over the world eat insects, scorpions, and other creepy crawlers. Could this be a solution to world hunger?

By Larry Schwartz | January 26 , 2011
<br />More than 80 percent of the world's population eats insects or arachnids, like scorpions and spiders.<br /><br />(Catherine Karnow / Corbis)

More than 80 percent of the world's population eats insects or arachnids, like scorpions and spiders.

(Catherine Karnow / Corbis)

In Silveiras, Brazil, residents are worried. Pollution has been killing local ant populations. Why the worry? Eating ants has long been a tradition in this part of Brazil. Queen ants found there can grow up to an inch long. People in Silveiras describe ants as crunchy and tasting like mint.

More than 80 percent of the world's population eats insects or arachnids, like scorpions and spiders. In Thailand, scorpions are fried on sticks and eaten. People in Mexico eat toasted grasshoppers, locusts, and even mosquito eggs. Grubs, or insects at the larval stage, are commonly eaten worldwide—from Australia to Korea.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has even suggested harvesting insects as one way to help solve the problem of world hunger. High in protein and low in fat, insects are much easier to farm than cattle or pigs, which also pollute the environment when grown for lots of people to eat.

You may not know it, but you probably have already eaten quite a lot of insects in your life. Experts estimate that people in North America accidentally eat more than one pound of bugs per year.

How? Bugs can get into grains that eventually become bread. Apples used for apple cider probably have a grub or two in them. Honey? It's just bee spit!

More than 1,400 species of insects and arachnids are known to be safe to eat. But don't try eating any on your own. Some can make you sick. Insect specialist Blake Newton says, "Insects can be a good food source, but only if properly identified and prepared."

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