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.

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