EDITORIAL

Bug bonanza

Food movement seeks to break Westerners’ taboo against eating the world’s most plentiful protein source: Insects

2/17/2014

In the Gospels, John the Baptist —who wore camel-hair clothes under the hot sun of the Middle East — subsisted on wild locusts and honey. Today, Jesus’ gastronomically adventurous cousin would be another foot soldier in a food revolution aimed at reclaiming 10 quintillion tiny creatures for the dinner table.

The movement seeks to break Westerners’ taboo against eating the world’s most plentiful protein source: Insects.

Across the United States, high-end restaurants, and some that cater to a more downscale clientele, are experimenting with menus that offer wax moth larvae tacos and mealworms sprinkled over conventional food such as ice cream. Supermarkets sell crickets that can be fried and served as delicacies to diners who are eager for an exotic experience.

It makes sense: A recent United Nations report said Westerners should rethink their resistance to gobbling grasshoppers and other bugs. Farming insects for mass consumption would require fewer resources in land, water, and energy than animals. And the bugs yield more protein-rich benefits.

Unlike the world’s fish stocks, which are in danger of depletion, the insect population is exploding. For these reasons, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization will hold a conference in May to push insects as human food.

Two billion people eat scorpions, larvae, worms, and crickets as a regular part of their diet. Only those in the West consider that too nasty to contemplate.

With traditional sources of food undergoing strain and scarcity, humans may rediscover the wisdom of eating bugs. The next time you’re in a restaurant and you find a fly in your soup, it just may be the special of the day.