Though repugnant to many Westerners, people around the world consume more than 1,000 species of insect as a healthy, sustainable source of protein-rich food.

In Africa, Asia, and throughout the Americas, the ancient practice of entomophagy provides sustenance beyond fruits and vegetables, and meat from livestock and animals hunted or trapped in the wild. Some 2.5 billion people consume insects regularly as a food source. Now, many experts believe insects represent the next big step forward in providing food for a growing world population, hoping to solve one of humanity’s most solvable problems—the hunger of more than a billion people in India, Africa, and in pockets throughout the developed world.

On Monday, a team of business graduate students from Montreal’s McGill University won international attention for a proposal to organize mass-scale production and distribution of insect food, seeking to promote the farming of insects and the organization of insect food markets in developing nations. Former President Bill Clinton, in a ceremony held in in New York City, presented the five-member “Aspire Food Group” team with the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual Hult Prize.

The team was comprised of MBA students Mohammed Ashour, Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein, Zev Thompson, and Gabe Mott.

“This is a fantastic opportunity, and we’re really grateful to the McGill community for giving us the resources we need,” Soor, an MBA-Law student, told reporters. “We really hope to make an impact on the world stage.”

Soor and his teammates pitched their idea for mass farming and distribution of insect food to a panel comprised of executives from the World Food Program and the United Nations Foundation, among other notables. Clinton’s non-profit group awarded them $1 million in seed capital to begin implementing their project.

The team has already traveled to Kenya, Mexico, and Thailand to research opportunities to develop food sources from local insect species, in addition to assessing marketplace opportunities in the poorer regions of those countries.

Although some experts refer more broadly to entomophagy as the consumption of not only insects but arthropods, such as tarantulas, and andmyriapods, such as centipedes, the term does not encompass the consumption of crustaceans, of which Americans and others in the developed world continue a luxury, with almost no taboo. In many countries, people commonly eat crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, and various beetle grubs, such as mealworms, in addition to species of caterpillar, and scorpions.

The McGill team says local insects, depending upon the region of the world, could be ground into a flour to make protein-rich breads.

Many from the United Nations and other groups working to solve world hunger believe wide-scale consumption of insects may greatly increase food security in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable.

Below is a video of the McGill team’s research trip overseas: