We don't know how lucky we are living in this country! We can go to the grocery store and find on the shelves all kinds of good, safe foods. They are attractively packaged and, in many cases, in easy-to-fix form. We can load up the grocery cart with all the food, and often nonfood items, our budgets will allow.
Just how lucky are we? A recent report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that there are about 2 billion people in the world who currently have to eat insects to survive. In various countries, humans eat more than 1,000 species of insects, mostly in the Asia and Africa, according to the report.
But the report presents another side to the picture. Insects offer an opportunity to merge traditional knowledge and modern science in these developing countries. And studies suggest the nutritional value of some insects contains enough protein to rank with lean ground beef. They are also a good source of fiber and many minerals.
Most of the insects harvested for food now come from wild areas. For families living in these countries, eating insects can mean the difference between hunger and having something to eat.
Most popular seem to be mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers. Some are eaten whole, while where quantities can be gathered, they can be ground and processed into meal for food.
FAO says that farming insects as food can become a reality in those countries where they grow naturally in abundance. They say they could become a cash crop and an employment opportunity for a number of people, as well as preventing hunger in many countries.
So eating insects is an interesting idea but not one that most of us would want to resort to in this country. If we went to the store and all we could find to buy were insects of various kinds fixed various ways, we would not be happy people.
That brings us to the amazing fact that just 2 percent of us grow enough food to feed all the rest of us and feed us safely and in abundance. This is possible through the efficiency of today's modern family farms, the use of technology and the management and hard work of farmers, both locally and across the country.
Amazing and concerning as it may be, some small, noisy groups and individuals are critical of today's modern, efficient family farms. They tend to think that we should go back and farm the way great-grandpa farmed with two horses and a lot of back-breaking labor, producing just enough food for his family and two or three other people.
While we live in an area of both small and large family farms, we find that the various size farms all use technology and adapt efficiencies on their farms. Smaller farms will use smaller equipment or keep fewer cows to milk and often one person works off the farm to supplement their income. They take good management to be successful.
Over the years, we have seen a constant growth of farm size with larger fields that handle bigger farm equipment. These farms are highly efficient and require a high degree of management to make decisions that are best for their farm.
So let's be thankful for the farmers we have in this country. Otherwise we might have to have fried grasshoppers for dinner tonight!
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and an independent agricultural writer.