It sounds creepy, but one of the best ways to save the world could be turning to creepy crawlies. Western gourmands generally find dining on bugs unpalatable, but for some 2.5 billion people in the world, especially in tropical regions, spiders and insects have long been part of the diet—and are far easier on the environment than protein bags like cattle that require clear-cut grazing lands, concentrated feed, and septic systems. The protein content of bugs is "is comparable to that of conventional meat," according to the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization, which points out that the critters are rich in vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fats.
Curious scientists, celebrities, and officials recently turned up to dine on butterfly larvae, ants, dragonflies, and locusts at Oxford University as part of the "Grand Banquet of Rainforest Insects" arranged by an artist to build support for rainforest protection by encouraging insect cuisine with a variety of dishes. The chubby leaf-cutter ants seemed to be the favorites of some of the diners, reports Der Spiegel. But others were not so thrilled. "I think the most important spice here is the mescal," said one film producer pouring himself a shot of the Mexican liquor, making certain the larva at the bottom of the bottle didn't slip into his glass. (Read more tarantula stories.)