Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations On the Contrary

Slip an extra locust on the barbie?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 20 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3293
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}

More than half the world already eats insects; why not everyone?

Following in the footsteps of John the Baptist, I’ve eaten honeyed locusts, although in my case from a tin. I’ve sucked formic acid directly from the abdomens of green ants (quite lemony in flavour). And I’ve devoured sorrel leaves with a paste made of crickets at Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant.

Far from such gastronomic exhibitionism setting me apart from the rest of humanity, it places me firmly with the majority. According to Dutch entomologist Marcel Dicke, more than half the world’s population consumes insects—not out of necessity, but because they regard them as delicacies. Dicke was on hand at “Exploring the Deliciousness of Insects,” an evening organised by the Wellcome Collection, London. While he provided the theory, the Nordic Food Lab, set up by Noma’s founders, provided the practice.

Dicke’s message was that insects are nutritionally rich and low in production resource, which matters in a world where the population is steadily increasing, people are eating more meat, and 70% of agricultural land is being used for grazing. Traditional supplies of animal protein soon won’t be able to …

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