Entomophagy? Eating insects of course. Insects are wildly popular over much of the world, and are slowly regaining popularity as a food source in Western cultures. Starting off as a novel replacement for an olive in cocktails, insects are slowly but surely edging themselves onto our dining plates:
They are also proven to be really, really good for you: a great source of protein, healthy fats and minerals, as well as being much more environmentally friendly than traditional meats. Even the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation recommends it to fight world hunger and malnutrition. There are just a few issues: lack of investment and development in marketing, research, farming and supply chains. Unfortunately, many are still squeamish about eating insects – but many simply lack recipes, knowledge, skills, and even the ingredients needed to cook with bugs.
The French never forgot the prehistoric practice of eating escargot. Yes I know they’re molluscs, but, without a shell – are they that different from caterpillars? What about caterpillar in groundnut, tomato and chilli sauce, as is eaten by the Congolese. Insects have been a global staple for a long time, and as the internet reaches a more international audience, I can’t wait to see the recipes and preparation methods different cultures use, as well as the different insects eaten, to fully appreciate this food source.
Over here in London, people are getting really good at playing with their food – and inventing novel ways to introduce insects into our diets. Ento are a small start up in London, who have worked to invent an insect pâté – and based on their photos, I’m hoping an entomophagy twist on sushi will be appearing soon! It’s already fairly easy to buy some insects over the web, although they are usually in dried form. In terms of UK suppliers, I’ve managed to find BugGrub and Europe Entomorphagie – although you can also find a variety of products in a large South American river. Many more small start ups, like Grasshopper Suppliers, are working hard to set up supply chains to home cooks, restaurants and industry.
What is often forgotten in the articles about eating insects is the farming itself. Tiny Farms have designed the Open Bug Farm – an open source meal worm farm (they even sound like food already). The product gives you everything to start up your own insect farm at home, and continue producing your own insects to eat; it’s also open source, so that owners and users continue to update and improve the design and farming methods.
Insect-eating is surely shaping up to be one of the biggest new food trends, and I can’t wait to find (and try) more insects and recipes!