Insects are nothing if not abundant; according to some estimates, there are as many as 10 quintillion insects alive at any one moment. Bugs are not only high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, but are also more efficient than livestock at converting their food into edible tissue--a veritable food super-factory. Humans already eat more than 1,400 species of insects, and bug-farming is a growing industry in Southeast Asia.
In the U.S., of course, "it's not easy for many people to pop bugs into their mouths when they've been conditioned over a lifetime to despise them," says Patrick Durst, a senior forestry officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
But, he says, "there's really no reason that insect protein has to look like a bug. Insects could readily be used as ingredients in a multitude of foods, or reconstituted in much the same way that fish sticks and chicken patties are currently."