Opinion: Bugs can solve food crisis

A tropical entomologist argues that edible insects offer a sustainable alternative for conventional meat

Arnold van Huis
Sep 28, 2010
As early as 1885, the British entomologist Vincent M. Holt wrote a booklet with the title: "Why not eat insects?" It is a good question, as most of the world population does. More than 1000 insect species are eaten in the tropics, including caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, ants, bees, wasps, and true bugs. This is probably because insects in warmer climates are bigger and show more crowding behaviour than in temperate zones, making harvesting from nature easier. It is an erroneous Western assumption that people in the tropics eat insects because they are starving. To the contrary, an insect snack is often considered a delicacy.
Insects sold at Laotian markets.
Image: Arnold van Huis
Nutritionally, insects are comparable to conventional meat such as pork, beef, mutton, or fish. Depending on the species, insects contain between 30 and 70 percent protein, and are a good source of essential fatty acids, vitamins...
Bamboo caterpillars in Laotian markets.
Image: Arnold van Huis
Tenebrionidlinkurl:Arnold van Huis;http://www.ent.wur.nl/UK/Personnel/Research+Personnel/Arnold+van+Huis/ is a tropical entomologist based at the Wageningen University, the Netherlands.