Palm weevils. To look at, these tiny bugs are relatively unassuming, perhaps even slightly creepy to the insect-adverse. To Mohammed Ashour, however, they are the solution to many of the ills facing the developing world. The humble palm weevil could potentially eradicate world hunger and malnutrition, it could lift whole communities out of poverty, and bring down global C02 levels. For a creature measuring just a few inches in length, that's a lot of power.
"If anything, our business model is too disruptive," says Ashour, who launched Aspire with four fellow MBA students from McGill University. Their aim is to introduce insect farming to countries with an affinity for insect consumption and a lack of access to nutritional sustenance.
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Kat Kinsman is the managing editor of CNN Eatocracy. She wrote this essay for the place-themed issue #52 of the SFA's Gravy quarterly.
Angela H. pulled me aside in the lunchroom to tell me that everyone thought my family was poor. This was news to me. So far as I could tell, my sister and I didn’t look anything like the barefoot, swollen-bellied children on the sides of the UNICEF cartons into which we slipped spare pennies. Nor did anyone attempt to gift us with sacks of half-eaten sandwiches, the likes of which our Grandmother Ribando said starving Armenian children would be most grateful to have. (Clean your plates, girls. Clean your plates.)
I pressed her for evidence and she relished the words, tumbling them around in her mouth like a disc of butterscotch before spitting them out on her Jell-O dish: “My mom says it’s weird that your mom wraps your sandwiches in Saran Wrap instead of a Ziploc. And why do you always have carrot sticks and a couple of potato chips when we all have cookies? Did your dad lose his job or something?”
I bought my lunch for the rest of sixth grade, making sure to spring for the chocolate milk instead of white—extra nickel be damned (and sorry, faraway UNICEF urchins). It’s not that I especially enjoyed the grey-meated burgers and leathery green beans slopped on my plate by a rotating cast of conscripted parents, but I loathed the notion that my peers thought they could infer anything personal from my lunch tray.
Nidal Hussain clutches a shopping bag as she crosses the four-lane street, weaving through cars and trucks that inch along a main thoroughfare in central Baghdad.
It's late morning under a sweltering sun, and Hussain has joined men, women and children walking to a market where canopied stalls line sidewalks and sometimes spill into the street. It's part of her near daily ritual of buying fresh bread, vegetables, fruits and fish to feed her family.
She steps over broken concrete and puddles of fetid water to get to the Karrada market, named for the central Baghdad neighborhood where it sits.
"Shetreed," a vegetable seller asks Hussain. What do you want?
She inspects a tomato from a green plastic crate, puts it back and chooses another.
Some of these are not that good, she says.
What do you expect with all the trouble? he says.
In a New Delhi neighborhood, residents line up in the blistering 45 degree Celsius heat (113 Fahrenheit) carrying empty jerry cans and water bottles, waiting for the government water tanker truck to arrive.
"We only get water once a week and each time we have to fight for it," one woman yells.
There are no laid pipelines in unplanned areas like this, so tanker trucks are their only source of water.
With the truck arrives chaos.