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.
Humans have a strange relationship with food. This seems to be a global truth that is perhaps best evidenced by the array of unusual food festivals the world over. We don't merely celebrate food, we wrestle in it, wage war with it, idolize it, and, in Gloucestershire, England, race it down a steep hill.
No matter what your favorite food is, chances are somewhere, large gatherings of aficionados have found some outlandish way to commemorate it. Even Spam has found a place of honor.
"Hawaii is one of the biggest consumers of Spam in the world," explains Karen Winpenny, an organizer of the annual Waikiki Spam Jam, which last year had 25,000 visitors. Hormel Foods sells more product in Hawaii per person than in any other U.S. state. According to the Spam Jam website, almost seven million cans of the stuff are eaten in Hawaii every year.