Bugs: The Food of the Future

Anyone for locust kebabs?

Why are we so squeamish about bugs? I understand when they’re crawling along your carpets while you have your feet dangling down vulnerable to them, or when they fly around the room ready to strike when you least expect, but why, when they are no longer wriggling about but are instead served up on a plate in front of you, are we still so squeamish about what to some is a perfectly conventional dish?

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In some cultures, eating insects as a major part of the diet is perfectly normal and an incredibly healthy source of protein. I can appreciate that eating insects with eyes and antenna pointing towards you could be more than a bit stomach churning, but what about dishes that are based on insect rather than containing whole insects? Insect flour is easy enough to make and can be used in place of regular flour in a variety of foods. One way to introduce insect flour based goods to the masses is by loading it full of sugar and serving it up as delicious baked goods, such as in a variety of cookies.

Chocolate chip and cricket cookies might just make it palatable to the everyman on the street, and from there who knows what other insect based delights could be brought into the public eye. The more adventurous chefs and consumers could start to look for foodstuffs that had the insects far less hidden, such as a loaf-type cake that is peppered throughout with mealworms. Could the finest patisserie chefs find a way to marry a banana loaf with mealworms and not horrify your average hungry person? Who knows, but as someone who constantly seeks new flavours and exciting things to try, I certainly would not be averse to giving it a go.

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Let’s imagine now that these types of foods have made their way into the mainstream, alternative bakeries using unusual flours have made the public accept insect based food, so the next stage is to step it up and start serving whole insects. Many people become freaked out with at the sight of prawns on a plate staring back at them but many more will happily devour them and enjoy every second of it, so why would these same people perhaps not be adventurous enough to give something with a few more legs a go? While I don’t expect to see crickets or beetles served in every restaurant in the country any time soon, if they were drowned in enough sauce and more than a few glasses of wine had been consumed who knows if they might just be the next big thing.

Let me make one thing clear however, whilst I’ll be the first to start a petition for the library café to stock chocolate covered scorpions, if any massive spiders appear on my plate I’m still going to run a mile, no matter how long it’s been deep fried for.

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