Crunchy locust snacks take Al-Ahsa by swarm

Despite a ban on eating locusts, they are sold at secret locations in Al-Ahsa.

Saudi Gazette report

Agricultural regions in many parts of the Kingdom is in the grip of a locust invasion. Over the past few weeks, the skies are seen swathed in a moving carpet of insects and the farmers fear their crops could be gobbled up instantly.

However, they make a versatile ingredient for culinary connoisseurs. Despite the many warnings issued by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture about the danger of eating locusts, but many people are still fond of the crunchy delicacy.

Locusts are rich in protein and minerals such as zinc and iron. As with fish, religious rules do not require their ritual slaughter.

In the local market in Al-Ahsa, one locust is sold at 60 halalas while a bagful of them costs from SR250 to SR400, depending on the size and quantity. The locusts are sold at secret locations in Al-Hofuf because of the prevailing ban, Al-Watan Arabic newspaper reported.

The newspaper visited the market place where bags of locusts were found hidden inside cars nearby. The stock will be shown only to customers who are genuinely interested to buy.

The sale of locusts is banned by the authorities saying it is dangerous to eat them because of the strong pesticides used to eradicate them.

A seller of locusts, who did not wish to reveal his name, told Al-Watan that there are limited quantities of locusts sold in the market. Most often they are collected nearby farms close to the desert, which is 260 kilometers from Al-Hofuf.

“Some people love to collect locusts for food while others buy them in large quantities to sell them at different locations. They collect them in small bags and sell them for a profit of up to SR60 per bag,” he added.

Another vendor, who also did not want to be named, said swarms of locusts arrived at a nearby area from Al-Asfar Lake (Yellow Lake) in Al-Ahsa.

“Most people love to hunt locusts at night because they are easy to catch. It goes on until hours after midnight. It is a good time also to hide from the authorities because of the ban on the sale of locusts,” he said.

An agricultural source told Al-Watan that it is dangerous eat locusts because they were exposed to pesticides. People who eat them in large quantities might suffer food poisoning, he added.