Leading article: Grubby ideas

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The Independent Online

It could give a whole new meaning to the phrase "grub's up". As population growth threatens to outstrip the planet's capacity to produce sufficient quantities of food, some scientists are recommending that we replace meat in our diet with bugs.

A Dutch scientist, Marcel Dicke, says that while 10 kilograms of feed generates just one kilogram of beef, and a few more of pork, the same amount can produce no less than nine kilograms of locusts, which are, incidentally, exceedingly nutritious and rich in protein.

We shouldn't laugh. Locusts were once a popular and highly respected ingredient in cooking. They still are in some parts of the Middle East. According to the Bible, John the Baptist lived off a combination of locusts and wild honey, which sounds like an early version of those very sweet, crunchy, cereals that so many people start the day on.

Of course, it will take time for people in these parts to adjust to the taste of locust rather than beef, but there is no reason we shouldn't eventually look forward to snacking on locust-burger, to Sunday lunches of roast locust with all the trimmings, or even, for those special occasions, splashing out on locust bourguignon or locust Wellington, say. It's an idea with wings.