Eating insects

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

This week on Earth Beat, we've dug out a treat from our archives. The programme, first broadcast in March, looks at bugs as food, from munching on mealworms to lunching on locusts. We also hear about eco legal battles, and the environmental impact of war.



As the growing population demands growing amounts of meat, maybe we should think beyond the usual chicken, fish, pig and cow supplies… to bugs. Supporters argue that protein-rich insects should also be on our menus and in our shopping carts. Marnie meets entomologist Marcel Dicke – to see if he could convince her to munch on a mealworm.

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Fiona Campbell gives a 60-second round-up of edible insects.

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Bug farming
Spiders under the bed, flies on the window sill, ants marching to and fro… getting a meal’s worth of bugs from your environment might not be easy. So, in Holland, there are bug farms. Ashleigh Elson went out to the Van de Ven insect kwekerij with Marian Peters, secretary of VENIK (the Dutch association for insect farmers) and project manager for Bugs Organic Food. She and Marnie discuss the trip… over a light mealworm snack.

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Taking on the Taiwan energy board

We’re being told all the time to reduce our energy consumption and find ways to improve our homes' efficiency. Reporter Keith Perron took this to heart and installed solar panels on the rooftop of his home in Taipei. He was delighted when his radically reduced electricity bill arrived… but not everyone shared his good news. Thus began an 8-month battle with the Taiwan electricity board, who claimed he wasn’t using enough energy.

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Taking on Chicago Parks department

Chapman Kelley is an artist. In 1984 he created, with his own cash, a wildflower garden in one of Chicago’s parks. It was a living version of one of his paintings, made of two football field-sized ovals densely planted with native wild flowers, planned so it didn’t require any water and yet still ensure something was always in bloom. And then, in 2004, the Chicago Parks Department cut 90 percent of it down. Chapman Kelley told Marnie about the resulting – and on-going – court case.

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Fallout in the DMZ

War isn't usually good for the environment. Bombs chip away mountains, napalm destroys forests and landmines kill wildlife. But on the Korean Peninsula, a ceasefire that ended three years of conflict has created something of an eco-paradise. Freelance reporter Nissa Rhee recently visited the most heavily armed border in the world and told Marnie about the environment in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

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Peacetime perils for the Palmyrah tree
Decades of war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers wreaked havoc on the country and devastated an all-important tree known as the Palmyrah. So people were hoping that in peacetime, the Palmyra would once again flourish. Instead, peace has created a whole new threat to this icon of Tamil culture. Kannan Arunasalam comments from Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

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War: what’s it good for?

What's good about war? The answer, according to our next speaker, is saving the environment. We bring you the leader of the new international army task force on environmental matters, the slightly fictional Brigadier Sir General Hugo Pipkin Fortherington Smythe. Assisted by writer Joel Stickley.