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A traveler's guide to eating insects

By CNN Staff
updated 1:17 AM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
Crickets are some of the most commonly eaten insects in the world and are regarded as a solution for the malnutrition problem plaguing Laos. Fried crickets and grasshoppers are sold at markets like this one in Vientiane. According to consumer feedback in the U.N. report, farmed crickets are tastier than the ones picked in the wild. Crickets are some of the most commonly eaten insects in the world and are regarded as a solution for the malnutrition problem plaguing Laos. Fried crickets and grasshoppers are sold at markets like this one in Vientiane. According to consumer feedback in the U.N. report, farmed crickets are tastier than the ones picked in the wild.
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Anyone for cricket? Laos
Bamboo worm, Thailand
Spiders, Cambodia
Red tree ants, Cambodia
Mealworms, Netherlands (and elsewhere)
Scorpions, Beijing
Locusts, Beijing
Silkworm, South Korea
Worms, Taiwan
Witchetty grub, Australia
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.N. report argues more of us should eat insects
  • In places like Bangkok, eating things such as bamboo worms are the norm
  • Beijing's popular Donghuamen Night Market has quite the range

(CNN) -- According to a recent U.N. report, insects could be a solution to some of the world's food and health problems. They're nutritious, eco-friendly and abundant. Many countries already consider them a staple part of their diets.

So if we're all to start consuming locusts and scorpions, we can start in Southeast Asia for guidance.

They're a common sight in Bangkok.

Come nightfall, at any given outdoor market or busy road there will usually be at least one vendor with a pushcart loaded up with insect snacks, making many tourists squirm and others lick their lips.

Maybe you're in the mood for some fried crickets. Or perhaps it's the pile of bamboo worms that has you salivating. These bug vendors serve up to a dozen varieties of insects, which are usually fried in vegetable oil then sprayed with soy sauce to add some zing.

To locals, and some expats, these foods are not out of the ordinary -- they're part of the many meals on offer. Though most tourists prefer to munch on bugs for the shock value and to try something different -- check me out on Facebook/Instagram, how crazy am I? -- locals enjoy them for the flavor.

"Customers often like to eat fried insects while drinking beer, as a healthy and exotic replacement for popcorn or peanuts," one vendor says.

More on Thailand's fried bugs: A guide to Thailand's edible insects

Similar markets and food carts exist throughout Asia and other parts of the world.

Take some of the options at this Beijing night market -- fried scorpions, centipedes and locusts.

Going back to that U.N. report, it says 2 billion people around the world consider insects a delicacy or even a dietary staple.

Insects are generally high in nutritional value and beat out both meat and fish in protein content and quality. They're also rich in fiber and healthy micronutrients including copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.

This makes insects the ideal food of the future, the U.N. says -- not just for the above parts of the world but globally. They will help promote health, wealth and a better environment and go some way to addressing current and potential food shortages.

Not only does chomping on a bamboo worm win you likes on Facebook, it helps save the world. Extra 'like.'

Read more about the U.N. report here, via eatocracy.

We've put together, in the above gallery, just a tiny entree-sized smorgasbord of some of the many insects eaten around the world.

For those in the United States or visiting, this great eatcracy piece lists several insect servers.

Who's hungry? Let us know your insect hits, and misses.

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