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Eating bugs: Would you dine on cicadas? Crickets? Buttered beetles?

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Mmmm. Just look at that plump little cicada. Can you imagine plucking it off its leaf and popping it in your mouth? Too much? How about after it's flash fried with a little butter, garlic and sea salt?

Face it, America. We're inch-worming our way closer to a dinner plate piled high with crickets, grasshoppers, grubs, cicadas and more.

Don't believe us? The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report just this week aimed at raising "the profile of insects as sources of food and feed" as experts wonder how the world will feed a population that is expected to explode to 9 billion men, women and children by 2050.

"To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today -- there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide -- and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be reevaluated," the report states.

Enter insects. Specifically, the hundreds of species of insects that are widely deemed as edible, including beetles, caterpillars, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, termites, dragonflies ... stop us when you've had your fill.

Insects are considered a viable alternative because they are so plentiful, they pack a protein punch, they require little preparation, and they do not take a heavy toll on the environment.

"Insects as food and feed emerge as an especially relevant issue in the twenty-first century due to the rising cost of animal protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth and increasing demand for protein among the middle classes," the report says.

"Thus, alternative solutions to conventional livestock and feed sources urgently need to be found. The consumption of insects, or entomophagy, therefore contributes positively to the environment and to health and livelihoods."

Billions of people on the planet already include bugs as part of their diet. But Westerners, the report notes, "view entomophagy with disgust and associate eating insects with primitive behaviour."

It will be an uphill battle to turn that opinion around.

Helping to do just that are chef René Redzepi and entrepreneur Claus Meyer. Grub Street New York noted Wednesday that the two have announced their Nordic Food Lab has been funded to expand research into insect gastronomy.

Are you biting? Can you envision a day when you'll tuck into a plate of beetles?

You don't have to wait, you know. 

Petty Cash Taqueria serves off-the-menu cricket tacos, and they're on the menu at Oaxacan restaurants such as Guelaguetza.

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