Some have doubted that John actually ate insects, claiming that Matthew was referring to pods of the locust tree, wild fruit, or even a variety of fish. However, the Greek word Matthew used designates a family of grasshoppers known today as Acrididae. The most common in Israel was the desert locust, known to form devastating swarms.—Joel 1:4, 7; Nahum 3:15.
Locusts were considered a delicacy by such ancient peoples as the Assyrians and the Ethiopians and are still eaten today by certain Bedouins and Yemenite Jews. In Israel, locusts were considered a food of the poor.
After the head, legs, and abdomen were removed, the thorax was eaten raw or roasted or after being dried in the sun. Sometimes the locusts were salted or soaked in vinegar or honey. Historian Henri Daniel-Rops says that they taste somewhat like shrimp.
Since John preached in the wilderness, locusts would likely have been accessible to him. (Mark 1:4) As they contain about 75 percent protein, locusts, along with wild honey, made a highly nutritious meal.