Grubs up! Scientists keen to get us eating bugs

Fancy a bluebottle butty or a spider sarnie? Scientists, keen to get us eating bugs, say they're nutritious, delicious and environmentally friendly

You could call it the campaign for real grub. Scientists want us to eat insects – for the sake of our health and that of the planet.

They say that scoffing spiders and gobbling grasshoppers – or entomophagy, to use its proper name – provides essential nutrients, keeps down pests and puts much less strain on the planet than eating conventional meat.

Researchers from Ohio State University have described insects as "micro-livestock", while the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) earlier this year held a special conference on their benefits.

"Insects are the most valuable, underused and delicious animals in the world," says David George Gordon, a Seattle-based naturalist and author. The West "is one the few cultures" that doesn't eat them, he adds. "Maybe we are the weirdos."

Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico have catalogued 1,700 different species and found that bugs are bolted down in at least 113 countries worldwide.

A plate of maguey worms – larvae of a giant butterfly – sell for £12.50 in smart Mexican restaurants. Sago grubs wrapped in banana leaves are a delicacy in Papua New Guinea. Large leafcutter ants are popular in Colombia. And wasps with rice was a favourite dish of Japan's Emperor Hirohito.

When pesticides failed to control locusts in Thailand, the government urged its people to eat them, and distributed recipes. The plague stopped. Now villagers plant corn specifically to attract them, so that they can be caught and sold.

Cultivating insects requires preserving forests, not felling them for agricultural use, experts point out, adding that it is perverse to use pesticides to kill insects that are more nutritious than the crops they prey on.

Studies have shown that insects are full of protein and essential nutrients – and contain much less cholesterol, and much more unsaturated fat, than other kinds of meat.

Entomophagy's proponents acknowledge that Westerners will take some persuading to ingest insects – especially if, as the FAO's Patrick Durst puts it, "they have to look the bug in the eye". But they point out the ocean's equivalents – crab, shrimp and lobster – are luxuries, even though these creatures are scavengers.

By contrast, Professor Gene DeFoliart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, insists the most-consumed insects are normally vegans, "clean-living in their choice of food and habitat".

Diners, it appears, should complain if they do not find a fly in their soup.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week