Bugs for lunch?
Feeling hungry? How about some worms with your spaghetti? Perhaps some ground cricket to sprinkle on your pizza? Or maybe just a good old bug burger?
While the idea of eating insects disgusts many, don't be surprised if you find creepy-crawlies on your own plate before long.
Why? Because insects could hold the key to the challenge of feeding the world's growing population. With the number of humans on the planet expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the search is on for alternative sources of protein beyond the traditional meat and fish.
Insects are not only high in protein, but also minerals and amino acids, according to Shami Radia, co-founder of Grub, a company which sells edible bugs. "Insects are the original superfood," says Radia.
Environmentally, insects produce less greenhouse gas, use less water and take up less farmland than conventional livestock farming, meaning they have a smaller impact on the planet.
So if they're good for the environment and good for you, why aren't we eating insects? In fact, in many places we already are. It's estimated that two billion people around the world eat insects as part of their diet. But most Western nations have not yet adopted the practice.
It's the "yuck factor" that stops them from eating bugs, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. People in the West generally view insects as unclean and carriers of disease. They're seen as pests: they damage crops, destroy furniture and live in dirty places.
But perhaps attitudes are slowly shifting. Certain types of insects are becoming more palatable to consumers, such as locusts and grasshoppers. Nick Cooper sells insects as food through his UK company Crunchy Critters, and has seen a sales growth rate of 25% year on year. He believes young people are more open to eating insects.
Shami Radia believes that munching bugs will one day become as popular as eating sushi. "Behaviour can be changed," he says. "Prawns are ugly and taste delicious and there's no reason why eating insects can't be normalised."
to hold the key to
the search is on
year on year