The Fly

My children were fighting over dead flies yesterday. They came charging into my office arguing over why Elizabeth should have three dead flies and Daniel only one. I looked at them in disbelief and with more than a little exasperation said, “Children, you’re fighting over dead flies!!!”. Daniel immediately realised the absurdity of the situation and walked away laughing, leaving Elizabeth as sole lord of the flies. Now she has five of them:


A little home was made for them and they were carefully carried about from one room to another. Then this evening I found myself eating dinner next to the five flies and it was a little off-putting. Why? What is it about insects that we find so repulsive?

Insects are a wonderful source of protein, they are rich in iron and zinc, they take up less land space than and have lower greenhouse gas emissions than livestock, and can be fed on rubbish, scraps, and even manure. Some 2 billion people on the planet already consume insects yet we in the West can’t stomach them. This has got to change. We can’t sustain 9 billion people on an American-style diet heavily dependent on livestock.

I read a good article on Medium today about the problem: Lovely grub: are insects the future of food?. The solution to our cultural bias, according to the article, is to disguise insects in food. This seems like a winning strategy to me. While I can’t bring myself to cook Elizabeth’s flies (she’d be heartbroken if I did anyway), I could probably manage to gag something down that was made with cricket flour.

Hopefully I won’t have any nightmares about Jeff Goldblum tonight 🙂

20 Replies to “The Fly”

    1. I could probably be convinced to try caterpillars or something similar but the insects with exoskeletons and long, skinny legs and antennae I don’t think I could stomach in one piece.

      1. Oooooh, no, too squishy! Reminds me of a kids rhyme, “The long thin slimy ones slip down easliy, the short fat fuzzy ones don’t.” The rhyme was about worms, but the mere thought of caterpillars brought it to mind. The title of the rhyme… Goin’ down the garden to eat worms.


  1. We are taught from an early age that insects are not allowed on/in food because they are carriers of disease (dirty). They’ve also got some disgusting habits, like vomiting on meat and reabsorbing it or living on feces. Then there’s maggoty meat. Perhaps the revulsion, in general for hygiene purposes and the avoidance of food poisoning, is not that bad an idea.

    Our difficulties in eating them is just attendant other side of the coin. yeuch!

    1. Yes, there are probably some good reasons but we can also say that animals like pigs and chickens are carriers of disease too yet we don’t have the same revulsion.

      1. Ah but they don’t create our early impressions of the world by flying in the window and being shooed of the jam tarts. Although pigs might ~

  2. Funny you should mention Jeff Goldblum! Unforgettable movie. I wonder how long it will take Elizabeth to tire of her collection. Yuck.

    1. It’s a great movie; an absolute classic. I’m hoping Elizabeth will tire of them sooner rather than later. I suggested we bury them in the backyard and she was horrified. I’ll wait a week and chuck them out.

  3. Elizabeth should beetles, more protein, less fragile:)

    1. Don’t tempt her! She loves creepy crawlies of all kinds. Not long ago she adopted a pet cockroach. Thankfully it escaped.

  4. I consume a good number of bugs over a summer’s bike riding although it doesn’t reduce the craving for a bacon sandwich afterwards so I suppose the contribution to the environment is not a great as it could be

  5. I think that’s why people don’t like insects – that they digest weird stuff and the way it’s described that a fly eats stuff… I won’t even describe it here. I do like the idea of a big juicy insect though, if it were something like prawns, which I love.

    1. Yes, caterpillars probably have a similar texture to prawns. I could probably be tempted to try one.

  6. We had a car journey once which ended up with fighting and crying over who was fighting crying first 😦 .. each child shouting. I was crying first..

    lots of.. who had most twigs arguments as well.

    1. Sounds like a fun car journey! Listening to children argue isn’t fun. In a car is even worse.

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