In other news: Arms deals, Yemen and locusts – plague or bumper harvest?

by | conscience, Everything Else

Did you notice how it seems like there’s – pretty much – only one newsworthy thing happening in the world, and that’s corona?

If something newsworthy happens in a forest and no one writes about it, does it happen at all? I mean, where did all the other stuff go? I find it strange to switch on Germany’s biggest 8pm news programme as I try to do most nights, and watch fifteen minutes of minutely detailed reporting on the corona virus and its evil workings, before there’s a few minutes of other news, as a kind of off-the-cuff head-nod to the fact that the world continues to go on outside of the pandemic.

“If something newsworthy happens in a forest and no one writes about it, does it happen at all?”

It took a Guardian article I read this morning (and no surprise here) about the fact that the UK arms industry has sold Saudia Arabia some 15 billion pounds worth of arms since the beginning of the Yemen conflict – since 2015. Although the high court in the UK blocked further sales in the summer of 2019, the arms industry is of course fighting this ruling tooth and nail.

There are some things which shouldn’t shock me, but sometimes they do. All over again. Or perhaps that sentence is wrong. Maybe there are things that really should shock me, but tend not to any more. Which is worse.

A brand new plague of locusts

One other bit of international news that cropped up on my radar this morning was that there is expected a brand new plague of locusts in East Africa (they’ve only recently recovered from the previous plague of locusts, and this one is expected to be 20 times worse). We’re talking millions of young male locusts vociferously devouring everything in their path, slap bang in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown. Hell on earth.

Something else occurred to me; recently we’ve been planning on a new series in the indieRepublik “Eats & Drinks” section: insects as food. As delicacies, as a replacement for red meat, as a cheap source of sustenance, and as a surprisingly potent source of protein.

One Duckduckgo search later, and Yemen popped up again, this time in a slightly different context: whereby they’ve been dealing with their own recent locust infestation by eating them.

“The taste of a decently cooked locust is apparently similar to that of smoky bacon”

Apparently locusts have been considered a delicacy for centuries (not just in Yemen of course but across whole swaths of Arabic and African countries) – even dowries sometimes included a sack of dried locusts back in the good/bad old days. Fifty to sixty percent of their dry weight is pure protein (source:, which is better protein content than your average cow, with 12% fat, while the taste of a decently cooked locust is apparently similar to that of smoky bacon and said to be “reasonably tasty”.

Plagues of locusts descending on east Africa is a horrifying idea – especially for a region hit by corona, drought, poverty, extreme weather occurrences – but maybe it might be worth turning it into a bumper harvest of a new source of protein to try, in some way, to replace the crops they’ll be eating.

I realise that in the course of this article I’ve digressed quite a bit, forgive me for that: ramblings of a man on his first coffee of the morning. But let’s not forget that the world continues, in all its finery and with all its problems, even while we’re in netflix and pizza fuelled lockdown.

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