Two or three decades ago, the mopane worm biz was somewhat small and low-key, with the dried product packaged in small plastic Baggies or sold by the tin cupful at rural bus stops. Now though, several large South African firms have picked up the slack, marketing around 1.6 million kilos of these morsels annually. Neighboring Botswana nets an estimated $8 million per year and in Zimbabwe, there have even been reports of mopane poaching and stories of armed gangs robbing rural harvesters of their worms.
5. Bug-eating is sanctioned in the Bible.
It’s said that the Biblical backwoodsman, John the Baptist, sustained himself on a diet of locusts and honey. Today, many Middle Easterners capitalize on occasional locust swarms, drying, salting and stockpiling baskets these large, winged insects for later use in the kitchen.
In Leviticus, the book of the Bible where dietary laws are first addressed, it says that locusts are kosher -- fit fare for most devout Jews. The rest of the insect kingdom is “an abomination to you,” according to the Good Book. Scholars theorize that locusts were included in the A-list because they are so readily distinguished from other insects, thus limiting the chances of mistakenly snacking on a species already listed as impure.
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