Silk worms. Cicadas. Scorpions.
All of these and more were on the menu in Thailand, served up street-side, freshly fried and garnished with the ever ubiquitous chili sauce.
In Laos, people harvest nutritious ant eggs to supplement a diet often wanting for protein. In Tanzania, during that brief window before the wet season, when termites alight from their mounds searching for mates, they provide an abundant, if fleeting, food source. There is no doubt that people have, and still do, tap into the nutritious potential of insect protein.
And the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization would like to see more of it. A recently published report by the FAO, Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Food Security, begins:
It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accomodate this
number, current food production will need to almost double. Land is scarce and expanding
the area devoted to farming is rarely a viable or sustainable option. Oceans are overfished
and climate change and related water shortages could have profound implications for
When put that way, the conclusion seems so obvious. If not from the land, and not from the ocean, well, then from the sky. While citing many benefits, the report also identifies a major barrier to adoption of broader scale insect consumption: western attitudes toward the practice.
So, maybe we can all do our part for sustainability: with a net, a fryer, and a little daring. Maybe we’ll have to.