A common food

In most developing and tropical countries, the practice of consuming insects, known as entomophagy is accepted, while in the western world the reaction is often one of disgust. The idea that people resort to eating insects because of hunger is an erroneous western perception as insects are often considered a delicacy in their country of origin.

One question is why insects are not consumed in the western world compared to the tropics. Insects are “cold-blooded” animals, and most tropical insect species are larger than those living in cold and temperate climates. In addition, tropical regions have higher insect species diversity and mostly edible insect species can be found year-round. This is not the case in cold and temperate regions where insect populations cease developing under cold conditions and hibernate. Another reason is that they normally do not occur in enormous masses, for example locust swarms. People in cold and temperate zones also live less in and with nature compared to tropical regions.

The western attitude that eating insects is primitive or a barbarity has not encouraged developing countries to place it high on the agenda of development assistance, even if the topic crosses through many disciplines (e.g. nutrition, natural resource management, livelihood development). Consequently, western donors have neglected insects as a possible food source.

In the last years and through the advocacy of institutions, individuals and the private sector, insects as a food source have seen increased attention by media and policy makers considering insects as an option in order to ensure food security and improve resilience.

last updated:  Thursday, January 16, 2014