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Creepy-crawlies on the menu

Kaitlyn Hudson-O’Farrell, May 2, 2021 3:00PM The Daily Telegraph

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Edible insects are high in protein, vitamins and other nutrients. Picture: Boris Ceko media_cameraEdible insects are high in protein, vitamins and other nutrients. Picture: Boris Ceko


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Insects could soon be on Australian dinner plates, with a landmark* plan to grow the nation’s protein* industry* by $10 billion in five years.

Bugs like witchetty grubs, bogong moths and green tree ants could soon be produced in Australia on an industrial scale for human consumption, according to a plan published by the CSIRO and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The plan, which was developed by the CSIRO during research into protein sources other than animal meat, outlines how Australia could become a world leader in the emerging* edible* insect industry, which is expected to be worth $1.4 billion by 2023.

media_cameraGreen tree ants could soon be harvested in Australia for human consumption.

CSIRO researcher and report co-author Dr Rocio Ponce Reyes said bugs could prove a healthy addition to Australian diets.

“Insects have high-value nutritional profiles, and are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamins B12, C and E,” Dr Ponce Reyes said.

“They are also complementary* to our existing diets because they are a healthy, environmentally friendly and rich source of alternative* proteins.”

media_cameraAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities traditionally eat a number of species of insects, including witchetty grubs. Picture: Tobias Titz

About 2 billion people across 130 countries eat more than 2100 different insect species, including 60 native Australian varieties traditionally eaten by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

CSIRO future protein lead professor Michelle Colgrave said edible insects could help ensure global food security and be a lucrative* export* opportunity for Australia.

“With the global population set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, we will need to meet this demand for sustainable protein production by exploring diversified* sources,” Prof Colgrave said.

“Alternative protein industries can play an important role in Australia, contributing to regional and national prosperity*.”

media_cameraCSIRO future protein lead professor Michelle Colgrave believes edible insects could help feed the growing global population with minimal impact on the environment.

CSIRO entomologist* and report co-author Dr Bryan Lessard said farming insects could also be a climate-friendly option to produce protein.

“Australia has a high diversity* of native insects … many species have the potential to be sustainably harvested* or grown in low impact farms, to be turned into new and delicious Australian foods for us and our pets,” Dr Lessard said.

“Commercial insect farming is considered to have a low environmental footprint, requiring minimal feed, water, energy, and land resources — factors of importance to the modern health and ethically-conscious* consumer*.”


  • landmark: an event that marks an important stage or turning point
  • protein: a nutrient in food which is important for the body to grow and be strong
  • industry: group of businesses that make certain goods
  • emerging: starting out, beginning to be noticed
  • edible: able to be eaten
  • complementary: helps to enhance another thing
  • alternative: offering another option
  • lucrative: making a lot of money, profit
  • export: send goods to another country for sale
  • diversified: varied
  • prosperity: being successful and having a lot of money
  • entomologist: scientist who is an expert in insects
  • diversity: variety
  • harvested: gathered for human consumption
  • ethically-conscious: to have your values in mind
  • consumer: person who buys something to eat or use


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  1. Name two insects that could soon be harvested in Australia for food.
  2. Which group developed the plan to grow our edible insect industry?
  3. What is the main nutrient insects provide?
  4. How many people around the world already eat insects?
  5. How many different species of insects do they eat?


1. Insects on the menu
While there are many cultures that already embrace insects as a food source, there are also lots of people that might need some persuasion! Perhaps some clever meal names featuring alliteration might help? First brainstorm as many insect names as you can. Then choose eight of them and think of flavours, ingredients and dishes that begin with the same letter or sound to create some tasty meal names.

Examples: Slug and slaw sliders; Cicadas in cider syrup; etc.

Choose your best meal name and draw a picture of the dish. Make it look gourmet!

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Survey your classmates – how many of them would be prepared to try eating insects? Make a graph to show your results.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity 
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics

Grammar and VCOP
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?

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