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Looking for low-cost and highly nutritious food? Try insects!

At his home in rural Costa Rica, biologist Federico Paniagua joined his family at the dining table to devour several types of insects that he raised on his farm and whose flavor he compares to potato chips.

The head of the University of Costa Rica's Insects Museum decided three years ago to replace animal protein in his diet with crickets, ants, cockroaches, beetles and other insects - and wants to encourage others to do the same.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has counted more than 1,900 insect species that are edible.

Especially in Asia and in Africa, the tiny creatures are touted as delicacies packed with vitamins, minerals and energy.

Their proponents also note that bugs emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia than cattle or pigs and require significantly less land and water than cattle.

Paniagua's wife, Gabriela Soto, prepared their meal by splashing oil in a frying pan, adding the farm-raised insects and topping them off with a dash of salt.

She then brought out several dishes to her young daughter, who reached into a plate with her hands and munched fearlessly, and husband, who suggested a bit of lemon would enhance their flavor.

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