Eat Insects: Save the World

Insect food stall in Bangkok, Thailand
Takoradee, via Wikimedia

Do you like to eat insects? Anne Muir and Liz Waid look at this important food source. Eating insects may even save the world!

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Anne Muir.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A woman in the United States is making a meal. She chooses a recipe from a recipe book. She will follow this recipe, adding each different food at the right time to make a good-tasting meal. The recipe begins with common foods. First, she adds some juice from a sour lemon. Then she puts in some olive oil and a small amount of sweet honey. She adds some salt and pepper spice. Finally, she is ready to add the protein, or meat, into the meal. Does the recipe use chicken? Fish? Pork? No, the final ingredient in this recipe is katydids - a kind of insect!

Voice 2 

For many people in the United States insects would be a very surprising ingredient. There, eating insects is not common. But this recipe book is trying to change the way people in the United States and other western countries think about eating insects. This book contains recipes for people to make food from insects. It is called the “Eat-A-Bug Cookbook.”

Voice 1

The writer of this book is David George Gordon. In his book, he tells about the reasons that people should eat more insects. Eating insects is good for the environment, public health, and also the economy. Today’s Spotlight is on eating insects.

Voice 2 

Experts estimate that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people in the world. Almost a billion people already suffer from hunger every day. Our earth has a limited amount of resources like land and water. If we do not have enough food for the people on our earth now, how will we have enough for another 2 billion people in 2050?

Voice 1 

These are the questions that experts around the world are struggling with. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report in 2013. It explained:

Voice 3 

“The problem will be worse in the future. We need to think about what we eat and how we produce it. We need to find new ways of growing food.”

Voice 2 

The report suggested that raising and eating insects was one way people could solve this problem. There are over 1,900 different kinds of insects that people can eat. The most common are beetles and caterpillars.

Voice 1 

Many people around the world already eat insects. In fact, insects are part of the traditional diet of over 2 billion people. For example, in China, some people cook insects over a fire. They put the insects on a stick. The cooked insects are served on the street as street food. They are also served in restaurants, where food costs a lot of money. In the country of Ghana, people collect the termite insect in the spring time. They grind the termites into a kind of powder similar to grain. They use the ground termites to make bread.

Voice 2

Insects are a part of traditional diets because they are a very healthy food. They contain almost as much protein as a serving of meat from a pig or cow. Protein is a substance all people need to eat to stay healthy. Insects are high in vitamins and minerals. And insects are also low in fat and cholesterol - substances that are necessary for the body, but only in small amounts.

Voice 1 

Eating insects is also very good for the environment. Insects need fewer resources like land and water than larger animals. 90% of the fresh water people use goes to farming and raising animals.

Voice 2 

Marcel Dicke studies insects. In a TED talk, he explained how insects also produce more meat from the food they eat. For example, imagine a farmer. Imagine the farmer feeds a cow 10 pounds of food. Those 10 pounds of food produce about 1 pound of cow meat for people to eat. However, imagine the farmer gives cricket insects 10 pounds of food. Those 10 pounds of food produce 9 pounds of cricket meat for people to eat!

Voice 1 

Eating more insects can also help people in poorer communities. Many people can raise and sell insects. Raising and selling insects can provide a job and food.

Voice 2 

But insects will not replace livestock meat very quickly. First, people in some countries would have to change how they think about eating insects. Many people in North America and Europe eat a lot of livestock meat like cow and pigs. But they do not traditionally eat insects. They do eat some products of insects, like sweet honey from bees. But it is not normal to eat a whole insect in any form. In fact, for many people in the west, eating insects sounds insane! They believe insects are dirty and dangerous. Insects make people feel uncomfortable.

Voice 1 

Some people are trying to solve this problem. For example, we talked about David George Gordon’s recipe book at the beginning of this program. His recipe book tries to show people that eating insects can be delicious and easy. Other insect experts travel and tell people about the great effects of eating insects. But they still have a lot of work to do.

Voice 2 

Another challenge is creating rules and laws for insect producers to follow. There should be rules about how to raise insects safely to eat as food. People also need to decide how to eat insects. Will they be whole? Will they be ground into powder like a grain? Or, will food scientists discover a way to take all of the great food substances from insects and serve them in a very different form? These are all questions that people will have to ask and answer in the near future.

Voice 1 

But there are people who want to answer those questions now. José Andrés is a master chef in the United States. He has won important awards for his cooking. He serves insects in his restaurant. He believes that finding new forms of food is important for the future. He told the New Yorker Magazine:

Voice 4 

“We need to feed people in a sustainable way. In the future, the people who know how to produce protein will have an advantage over everyone else.”

Voice 2 

Will insects become the world’s main source of protein in the future? Do you eat insects? If you do, what insects are your favourite, and how do you prepare them? If you do not eat insects, would you start? Let us know what you think. Leave your comments on the script page of this program. Or find us on Facebook. Just search for Spotlight Radio.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from Scotland, the United States and England. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Eat Insects; Save the World’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Do you like to eat insects? If so, what are your favorite kinds? If you do not eat insects, would you start?


Avatar Spotlight
said on April 21, 2014

I think eating the different insects is really a good idea. This unusual kind of food can probably replace common meals as meat, milk products, root crops mainly in the poor communities and this food source may protect world from starvation in the years to come. I have never eaten insects, however, I would like to try it someday.

Green Kale's avatar
Green Kale
said on April 23, 2014

According to my religion, every animals even a small insect still have a soul. Therefore, when you eat meat or insects this life, the next life when you reborn into a different body, have to suffer for paying those sins. Not like you have to be in a form of animals or insects but another ways. How about if human used all the insects for meal, one day what life would be if the last insect was extinted? Why don’t we think about artifical meat?

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said on January 27, 2015

I remembered I saw Chinese eating scorpion on the entertainment program on TV.This was intersting food.I felt scared because it’s posionous insect.I didn’t dare to eat it.
In my place,some time I see people sell food insect called caterpillar.But I never eat it.I dont know if it is nutritious.

Avatar Spotlight
Wendy Arcos
said on May 24, 2015

Here in Ecuador in the amazon region native people eat a kind of worm called “chantacuro” a very fat worm! but for me it sounds insane because is not usual for me to eat that kind of food i only eat pork, chicken, beef and lamb. But I heard that an insect have a lot of proteins instead of meat well I don’t think so!

Mupmip218's avatar
said on October 16, 2015

From some sources, Insects has much nutrients in its. But if you know how to treat & cook it. It may become the very delicious food. Good for health and not to be fat. In my country, around 60% population is in Agriculture site, ussually, we see and eat insects in normay way.
It could be replaced for Meat: pork, beef, fish.

Avatar Spotlight
said on April 26, 2016

it’s a good idea to use insects as main food instead of pork,beef,chicken,lamb,fish…cause we must face the problem that so many people increases in the world every day, and i think the insects is good for your health if you really understand how to cook it in right way.BTW, the insects is better than artificial food, you know what i mean. :)

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on April 27, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight
Subject: answers to the questions above
Date: Wednsday 27, April 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Anne Muir, and Michio Ozaki:

I am sorry! Excuse me. But, I hate the idea to eat insects. I read the whole article that you showed for us readers and learners of English (eat insects; Save the World). Also, I know that you are not asking to someone to eat insects or encouraging to do that. You are showing a real fact that has happned in the world. People eat insects; Save the World. Here in Brazil there is not the habit to eat insects. Although, here in Brazil there are many people from China, Japan,  and North Korea but they normaly eat fish, meats, chickens, porks, pigeons, and vegetables. One day from the Chinese’s’ restaurant here in Brazil It was selling many delicious dishes very cheap. Then, people went to the chinese’s restaurant to eat this great dishes. However, people discovered that dishes were insects. These insects were fried Scorpios with vegetables. Would you like to know what happened to the Chinese’s restaurant? It was closed by Federal law and Police officers. I respect the environment and the nature. Insects have a function in the environment. God created the food chain in the beginning of the World in which each creature eat each other in the nature. Therefore, humans are sacred creatures so God said to eat fish, vegetables, breads, fruits, and eggs. God did not say to eat insects.  I am sorry again to disagree with people that like to eat insects. I am totally against the idea people eat insects. Please, accept my apologies to disagree with the idea people eat insects. Thanks!

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
Johanna Castillo
said on April 27, 2016

Severino Ramos;
I’m agree with you though not totally, Is not about religion or not although I believe in Jehovah God, is just that certain animals and spices of insect trough my point of view are important and more benefical for the enviroment and the food chain like said Servio however I don’t judge nobody but I neither agree and nor justify the idea of eat scorpios , spiders, and so on, however in a extreme case of survival this could be right but just if is necesary. Why invent the warm water?  even some insects are plagues .


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said on May 05, 2016

Thanks , Spotlihgt show me about insect, when i was a child i lived in a small village and
ate insects. I caught them and cooked over a fire .They had a good smell but Many peoples did not eat insect.

Avatar Spotlight
said on September 19, 2019

I don’t think it’s a good idea. In this matter, I am very conservative and prefer traditional meals from my country, such as rice, beans, fruits, meat and vegetables.

Avatar Spotlight
said on September 19, 2019

hello everyone,  eat insects save the world is crazy
Eat insects are insane, they are contains some virus and produce diseases, but in Ecuador is normally see people eat insects in Finados his name is CATSO, but in our country is not normally eat insects in general, this is my opinion about this topic.