In the next 40 years, the world is going to need a 70 percent increase in food production to feed a population that will be billions larger and considerably wealthier than it is today.
Where is that food going to come from? Dutch entomologist Marcel Dicke has at least a partial answer in the six-legged creatures we call insects.
Take another look at the locust; Dicke thinks we should think of it as the “shrimp of the land,” a delicacy that people should prize.
Four of every five people already eat insects intentionally and they’re prized as delicacies in China and Southeast Asia. Dicke showed a photo of his visit to Lijiang, China, where he ate caterpillars, locusts and bee pupae.
The rest of us eat insects unintentionally. He pointed out that, in the United States, for example, a fair amount of insect content is legally allowed in food. Chocolate can have 60 insect components per 100 grams; peanut butter can have 30 insect parts for every 100 grams; fruit juice can have five fruitfly eggs and 1 to 2 larvae for every 250 milliliters.
Insects are a particularly efficient crop. The same amount of feed can produce 9 times as much locust food as beef, Dicke said. That will come in handy because the world won’t only have more mouths to feed; those mouths will belong to people who are more affluent, and typically will eat more and demand more meat. The potential for the growth of livestock production is very limited, Dicke said.
Why are many people in the west reluctant to eat insects? Dicke said it’s “a matter of mindset.” To help change that mindset, Dicke served insect-covered chocolate to moderator Bruno Giussani, the European director of TED, who first protested, “I’m on a diet” before giving one a try.
Cookies topped with bugs were served in the break after Dicke’s speech.
In the service of journalism, CNN’s team sampled them. Our review: sweet, crunchy - and nutritious.