Insect eating makes headlines in the US

Published on
June 28, 2013

Promoting insects as food for humans got Marcel Dicke a lot of media coverage in the United States of America. "At some stage there were fifteen cameras pointed at me and the two American speakers, while we were preparing bug bites in the embassy’s small kitchen”, said the Wageningen University Professor of Entomology about the event organised by the Dutch Embassy in Washington, on June 26.

Bug bites

Together with Prof. Michael Raupp and Daniella Martin, founder of, Marcel Dicke prepared bug bites for the invited guests while they explained that insects are a nutritious, healthy and sustainable alternative to meat. The little critters are much more efficient than cows, pigs and chickens in converting plant resources in easily digestible proteins and minerals, Dicke told the representatives of USAid, the Worldwatch Institute, the World Bank, the EU, food companies and the media.

Showcasing The Netherlands

The embassy had organised the event to show that The Netherlands plays a pioneering role on this issue. "Well, that message has clearly come across," reacted Dicke, who is on sabbatical in the US. Agricultural Counsellor Martin Olde Monninkhof: "Never has the Dutch embassy in Washington had so much media attention as for this event."

Michael Raupp, Daniella Martin and Marcel Dicke prepare bug bites in the Dutch Embassy in Washington, US. Photos: Jeffrey Allanach
Michael Raupp, Daniella Martin and Marcel Dicke prepare bug bites in the Dutch Embassy in Washington, US. Photos: Jeffrey Allanach

Better than meat

Eating insects has many advantages over meat consumption, Dicke stated. Meat production has a large impact on the environment. Huge tracts of land and lots of energy, water, fertilizers and pesticides are needed to grow cattle feed. And much more fodder will be needed in the decades to come to meet with the growing global demand for animal protein. “In addition”, Dicke said, "excessive meat consumption, like we see in the western world today, causes health issues. It could increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. And diseases like avian influenza and swine fever are a risk, too."

Insect Cookbook goes international

Dicke is in the US in connection with his Rhodes visiting professorship at Cornell University, he is writing a book on insect-plant relationships and he is putting the final touches to the English version of ‘The Insect Cookbook’. This cookbook came out in the Netherlands in 2012, where the first copy was handed over to (then princess) Máxima. The English version of 'The Insect Cookbook’, to be published by Columbia University Press (New York), will be released early 2014.

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