mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Feeding the Future
Let Them Eat Caterpillars?

Brace yourself: a number of scientists are becoming increasingly convinced that you, your children, or even their future children could end up chowing down on bugs to get their protein. Caterpillar farms are starting to crop up in Burkina Faso, the BBC reports:

At the moment the caterpillars are only available for a few weeks a year. But with their high levels of protein and micronutrients like iron and zinc, they have the potential to fend off “hidden hunger”, as micronutrient deficiency is sometimes called, and change the financial situation of the poorest people in West Africa, especially women and children. […]

To help accomplish this vision there are many hurdles that the researchers must overcome. For starters the caterpillars are fussy customers. They only feed on the leaves of the shea trees.

Even in Burkina Faso, where shea caterpillars are part of the traditional cuisine, it’s apparently been an uphill battle to get more people eating these bugs. Imagine, then, how steep the incline will be for the slog of getting Westerners to add bugs to their menus.

It is starting to happen, though. This season at Safeco Field, the home ballpark of the Seattle Mariners, fans will be able to purchase “toasted grasshoppers tossed in chili lime salt.” A cup of these grasshoppers will run you just $4, a downright bargain for what might be a tasty snack and will surely be a talking point for you and your fellow fans, or at the very least a way to gross someone out.

That gross-out factor will be the biggest hurdle ahead for insect cuisine. Food is deeply cultural, and demanding that people change their tastes is one of the surest ways to incite ire (just ask any green fanatic that has alienated friends by demanding that they give up eating meat). Still, this is apparently something of a growth industry, and it could help shore up global food security in the decades to come. Here’s to those slimy, yet satisfying insects.

Features Icon
show comments
  • FriendlyGoat

    A downright bargain.

  • Unelected Leader

    What a pity. Of course, bugs are actually nutritious and full of protein, but farmers are struggling right now from an artificial grain glut due to shady speculation deals and “partners” in Europe and China not buying some GMOs unless they get patent rights and technology.

    Sigh, America (including Trump it appears) is so unserious about trade and security that it has green lighted the Chinese takeover of Sygenta.
    They can’t compete with the technology so they just unfairly use state funds to buy it. And they don’t allow such “investment” into their food supply or water treatment or power grid.

    • Suzy Dixon

      I hate to admit it, but you’re right. The meeting with General Secretary Xi was a failure. Admittedly achieved nothing on trade and NK. Just more status quo talk and nothing real. Not good.

      • D4x

        “…“We have very similar economic interests and there are areas where they clearly want to work with us,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters. “The objective is for us to increase our exports to them.”

        Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that “the most interesting thing to me was they expressed an interest in reducing their net trade balance because of the impact it’s having on money supply and inflation. That’s the first time I’d heard them say that.’’

        China’s leaders in fact have long been concerned about the yawning U.S. trade deficit with their country, $347 billion in 2016. Ross said the two countries agreed to a “100-day plan” to discuss trade; there were few details.

        Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “there was no kind of package arrangement discussed to resolve” tensions with North Korea, adding that Xi agreed the situation “has reached a very serious stage in terms of the advancement.”

        • Suzy Dixon

          Exactly. Nothing new. All this has been said for at least 20 years – when Clinton was acting as the cheerleader for China to join the WTO despite a rapidly increasing deficit and unfair practices. Same with NK. Nothing new. Nothing concrete. Just more status quo from the General Secretary and POTUS. These people change over a decade and the lines are always the same.

          • Unelected Leader

            Suzy, it’s Jared Kushner and his monied interests. He shouldn’t even be there riding dad’s coat tails. He’s the one trying to oust Bannon and likely Navarro. Trump should be listening to Navarro.
            If I was Navarro, I’d tell Trump to listen to me and bannon or I’ll show myself out and talk – a lot – about this war going on in the WH and the nepotism.

          • D4x

            Different people. TeamTrump has business experience. However, NOT trying to persuade anyone here to think differently, especially in a thread about eating insects.

          • Suzy Dixon

            That business experience lost money on a casino and went from “difficult meeting ahead [with Xi]” to literally grandkids singing and “no breakthrough” on NK or trade.

          • Unelected Leader

            Was literally typing roughly that. He’d better get Kushner out and listen to Navarro. The online army that helped him win is starting to push – hard – on Kushner and his undue influence and position.

          • D4x

            “WASHINGTON, DC – Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Republic of Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and Hawaii from April 15-25, 2017. This trip will serve as the Vice President’s first official travel to the Asia-Pacific region. During his trip, the Vice President will emphasize President Trump’s continued commitment to U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, highlight the Administration’s economic agenda, and underscore America’s unwavering support for our troops at home and abroad. …”

          • D4x

            Patience is a virtue, depending on what news source you read.

          • Unelected Leader

            Waited for almost two years until the election and inauguration, and finally came the big meeting. No good came of it. The US loses $1 billion per day to China alone in unfair, lopsided “trade” and now Trump tweets “Time will tell” about the trade deficit. No no no. You tell, Mr. President, you had a meeting after being elected with trade deficits being a supposedly paramount concern.

          • D4x

            When has ANY long-standing, burning issue EVER been solved in one meeting, especially with China, which still believes China is The Empire, with all others as tributaries?

            Perhaps you can find solace watching the trade data for the next three months. See how much oil gets exported from the USA to China.

          • Unelected Leader

            No one said it was going to be solved yesterday, but what could have been done is something real and concrete. Selling oil is a drop in the bucket. Putting tariffs on goods until the Chinese drop tariffs on US vehicles and farm implements, etc. Putting sanctions on Chinese banks and SOEs doing business with the Kim regime, and calling them out on the economic warfare being waged against SK to help NK.

          • ——————————

            Yeah, but there’s not much to discuss about eating insects…and I think we have all pretty much covered what can be said about eating insects, so no worries…besides your current conversation is much more intellectually stimulating….

          • D4x

            TY, but can not tolerate the intrusion of KushnerBashing from the BannonFaction, let alone the impatient sniping from those who do not understand China’s point of view, where protocol matters. By all accounts, the China meet at Mar-a-Lago was exceptionally well-choreographed, by Kushner and TeamTrump:


            A far cry from “Barack Obama ‘deliberately snubbed’ by Chinese in chaotic arrival at G20” seven months ago:


          • Suzy Dixon

            Oh yes, it went really well if your goal was to accomplish nothing, and if you don’t want to burn bridges for personal pursuits as I’m sure Kushner does not. His company stood to make $400 million from the suspicious Anbang deal. What is Anbang? It’s an insurance group. Of course it’s well connected to the Chinese Communist Party. Hmmm

          • D4x

            Please harass someone else. Your rage against Jared and Ivanka is deplorable.

          • Unelected Leader

            Rage against an obstructionist benefitting from nepotism seems justified. And? Tillerson and Mattis have already been there lol. That accomplishes precisely nothing. Here’s what a serious player would say. “Mr. Xi, I can play the tariff game, too. I can sanction Chinese companies and banks doing business with Kim. I can put more ships in the region, more radar, more ballistic missile defense, and even possibly nuclear weapons in South Korea.”
            “But neither one of us wants to go down that road, so let’s make a deal – a real deal. Three points:
            1. No tariffs and stop the cyber attacks on companies.
            2. Use your incredible economic leverage on Kim to curtail their cyber attacks, and nuclear tests and missile threats.
            3. Stop militarizing the South Sea, and pushing Filipino fisherman around telling them they can’t fish in their own EEZ.
            If you agree to that then we won’t raise our own tariffs, we won’t sanction anybody, we won’t put more missile defense in Japan or Korea, we won’t put bunker busters there, and we can even reduce our naval footprints in the whole region.”

          • D4x
          • KremlinKryptonite

            Unelected Leader, we’ve interacted before. You know I’m USN intel out here in ROK. Been all over Asia these past 10 years. So, before the critique let me say, when I tell you that I like your plan and that it would benefit the whole region if such a plan were to be implemented, I mean it.

            However, first, it is predicated on what will be seen as a bluff. Obviously, they have to believe you really will raise sanctions or tariffs or both, otherwise it’s worth the risk because the trade deficit, tariffs, IP theft net them more than $500 billion a year.
            Second, there is a faulty assumption in your plan. More precisely, it is by no means certain or clear that Xi Jinping could implement his end of the deal anyway. He’s not an elected leader, and he does not have an iron grip on power in the Chinese Communist Party.

            In fact, we have at least several dozen people on payroll (well paid might I say) that include academics, espionage agents, and the like dedicated to understanding the very fluid power structure of the Chinese Communist Party and the so called “Tigers” vs the PLA and so on.

          • TNI Censors Comments Now

            So, are you saying action has to precede a deal? (Don’t even try to have this discussion over on TNI). They are becoming worse than Twitter and FB

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Yes and no. Certainly, action preceding negotiation might work on trade and perhaps North Korea. It would have to be tariffs and/or sanctions targeting important “tigers” as well as their family in the “private sector” helping them loot the state of assets that they control and hand out.
            However, as it pertains to the SCS and ECS, it’s much less clear if Xi has the power to implement such a deal.

  • D4x

    Locusts aren’t bad, ‘once you get past the legs’ (“Hidalgo”, 2004 film); “…FAO has registered some 1900 edible insect species and estimates there were in 2005 some 2 billion insect consumers worldwide. They also suggest entomophagy should be considered as a solution to environmental pollution…”

    • Isaiah601

      I’m gonna stick with steak for as long as I am able to. As a matter of fact, me and Mrs. Isaiah601 are having a steak dinner in the city tonight.

      • D4x

        Stay away from the kitchen…unless you see cats.

  • ——————————

    I’ve been to many 3rd-world countries and have eaten bugs and a host of other weird stuff sold on the streets…often resulting a bout of Travelers Diarrhea…and some of it is not bad.

    And let’s not forget the FDA’s ‘allowable bug & rodent parts’ in our food supply…so we’re all eating it anyway….

    • D4x

      Yeah, if people only knew how many roach parts are allowed in Fig Newtons…

      • M Snow


      • ——————————

        About this many according to the FDA….

        Fig Paste
        (AOAC 964.23)
        Contains 13 or more insect heads per 100 grams of fig paste in each of 2 or more subsamples
        DEFECT SOURCE: Pre-harvest and/or post harvest and/or processing insect infestation
        Significance: Aesthetic

        Insect filth and/or mold and/or dirty fruit or pieces of fruit
        ( MPM-V53)
        Average of 10% or more by count are insect-infested and/or moldy and/or dirty fruit or pieces of fruit
        DEFECT SOURCE: Insect infested – Pre-harvest and/or post harvest infestation, Moldy – preharvest infection. Dirt – harvest contamination
        Significance: Aesthetic, Potential health hazard – may contain mycotoxin producing fungi

        I still love Newtons though!

  • Fat_Man

    When they pry my cheeseburger out of my cold dead fingers.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    *He marched up to the bar* and ordered “Gimme a plate of pillars, and a glass of bug juice!”

    It just ain’t Cowboy.

  • QET

    All of the geopolitical commentary is distracting us from the really important issue: the intentional eating of insects. To which I say: Nein! Nie! It is an offense to evolution for us to revert to the diet of our reptilian forebears. How long before the first chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Insects is established and runs to the federal courts seeking a declaration that insects are entitled to human rights?????

  • Loader2000

    Okay, so I actually have a comment about insects. I bought a bag of Chapolinas (salted, limed, peppered grasshoppers from Mexico) and they weren’t that good. Grasshoppers have a unique flavor that is an acquired taste. In other words, they don’t taste like chicken. What we need in the US is an insect that doesn’t have a strong ‘Unique’ insect flavor. Hopefully caterpillers and/or meal worms will fit that bill. If not, it is going to be a steep, uphill battle to get people in the west eating bugs.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service