The next step is not a hop

It was back in mid 2013 and I had just moved to a city called El Yopal, in the state of Casanare – Colombia
Take your time to write down those names, you don’t want to miss visiting this 150K-inhabitants paradise in the middle of the plains on your next visit to Colombia.

“Ya es temporada Don Rami” (it is the season Don Rami) said Carmencita, the lady that would iron my shirts once a week (oh boy, those days); “season for what?” I asked, wondering if I had missed the season premiere of GOT. “De las hormigas culonas” – big ass ants – BIG ASS ANTS 🐜🍑 How disturbing that idea was! how in this world a bug developed glutes? And Carmencita’s confusion was greater than mine, she was wondering how didn’t I know what those voluptuous insects were and I was wondering the exact opposite. I gave in, I needed to understand what was she talking about.

And so I learnt that, after heavy rain, these disproportionate bugs would come out of their holes with an urge to find food, to be collected by the unknown, roasted and served as a delicacy for up to $20 USD if your accent is still very far from the local.

Now, I had to try it and so I asked my lovely Carmencita if she could get some for me. “Mani con patas” (peanuts with legs) she said with a smile, a week later, while she handed me a plate full of hellish mini creatures. And there was I, standing on the fine line that separates Carmenza’s humor from the respect that her traditions deserve🤐 “Let’s do it” I thought to my self moments before I tasted that protein-loaded, buggy snack. “Fun”, I thought aloud, and so I was explained by the woman how important is this product not just as a curious experience for visitors but as a supplementary source of nutrition, when available, for the locals.

In recent years we have witnessed how insect-based protein has risen, with promises of sustainability, but with a very low voice regarding acceptance. So, the next step towards food sustainability will not be a hop; let’s take a look inside ant holes and cricket guts (since these hoppers are the main source of insect-based protein): Ants do not feed on the leaves you see them carrying diligently back home; no, they cultivate a fungus below the surface, and they cultivate it with vegetable biomass. Let’s put it this way, neither ants nor crickets are capable of digesting leafs but the fungi they harness, does. Ants grow and feed from it deep down in their holes and crickets, in their guts. Now, finally the geeky question, does a machine work better boxed or unboxed? 🤓📦 Why do we want to cultivate protein from an animal that feeds on fungal mass if we can skip that link in the chain and get that protein straight from the mushroom, unboxed? We are not advocating for the acceptance or rejection of poor, roasted bugs as part of our everyday life. We are here appealing to common sense, for the sake of industry, society and Nature. Does the world look like we need to add more steps and obstacles to food security solutions?💡🍄 It has been a pleasure sharing my evening thoughts with you, and you know how much I love some nutritious dialogue, please share your thoughts on your preferred channel.



PS: Why is there no emoji for grasshoppers anyway?😱

Rami Jadaa


7 years in international relations and business