This bug tastes like bacon, saves lemurs and could help end starvation in Madagascar
Bacon bugs. It's what's for dinner. Tonight.
The sakondry bugs of Madagascar are pulling off quite a feat: helping to thwart starvation, relieving biodiversity loss and saving lemurs. All while tasting like delicious bacon.
These small cricket-like insects have long been a well-loved snack for locals. Pro tip: Find the youngest ones (those are said to be the tastiest), give them a quick wash, pinch off the heads then toss them in a pan with some water and salt, and voila … a crispy, crunchy savory morsel.
“They’re quite soft when they’ve been fried … Like a nutty bacon,” Lewis Kramer, a conservation research coordinator, told Metro.co.uk.
“I would happily have a bowl of them with a beer,” he joked.Nutritionally speaking, however, the sakondry are much more than a snack. They might as well be singing Lizzo’s “Juice” ‘cause baby, they’re the whole damn meal.
Insects generally tend to provide a viable protein, fat and mineral source, all while requiring less land, water and feed than meat.These facts are more crucial than ever, as around 1.64 million people in Madagascar are enduring an undeniable food crisis. Horrifically destructive tropical storms and relentless droughts—which the UN directly links to climate change—have led to desperate measures. Metro.co.uk reported that people were forced to eat ash mixed with tamarind and leather from shoes to temporarily stave off hunger.
As a last resort, some villages have taken to hunting forest animals, including the already heavily endangered lemur. With nearly 94% of the species threatened with extinction, this is hardly a sustainable option.
But U.K.-based organization SEED Madagascar aims to address these issues with a novel solution: a bacon bug farm.
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Created by anthropologist Dr. Cortni Borgerson, the program helps communities plant and grow the bean plants known to locals as tsidimy (also edible, so win-win). The tsidimy will attract colonies of sakonry after only six to eight weeks. Those colonies can then be harvested about a month later.
Knowing that a love for card playing is part Malagasy culture, Borgerson created a deck of cards to act as a creative user manual the farmers can refer to for best practices and troubleshooting. The deck includes everything from how to care for tsidimy seedlings to how to differentiate between male and female sakondry.
In only one year, these farms have raised more than 90,000 harvest-sized sakondry, which provided the annual protein equivalent of 2,700 eggs. Borgerson told Mongabay News that the program has also saved 25-50 lemurs per community each year.
As delicious and nutritious and sustainable as they are, the sakondry remain quite mysterious. But while research is still being conducted, these little bacon bugs are becoming a part of a well-balanced diet (and ecosystem) for Madagascar.
Now … who’s ready for an S.L.T.? Sakondry, lettuce and tomato sandwich, that is. Or perhaps some eggs with a side of sakondry? A maple sakondry donut, perhaps? The possibilities are endless.