Can you think of the disgusting taste of an erring fly during a summery cycle? Nothing, not even brains or intestines on my plate, gets even close to the heaving I undergo at such a moment. Yet professional chefs declare that in the coming years our consumption of insects will increase. Early June, Peter de Batist, owner of the first European specialty shop Ecoshop, organized a demonstration of cooking with insects, which he calls ‘Future Food‘. Fact is that the future is embedded in inexhaustible sources of protein. Unfortunately our Western eating habits – in short: meat, fish and dairy – are not part of it.
By 2050 we expect there will be over 9 billion people to feed. The United Nations’ Scientists are convinced that we will only make it if we are willing to fry the odd grasshopper. This may sound very strange to you and me, but in Latin-America, Africa and Asia it is as normal as our Sunday roast. In some hundred countries they eat about 1,600 different insects these days. I can’t really imagine myself asking the waiter ‘Where is the fly in my soup?’ But according to the FDA Defects Level Handbook: tomatoes already contain insect fragments, canned fruit juices on average contain a maggot for every 250 ml, and 5% of the total weight of the hops in your beer can be a bug.
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The French chef David Faure started to serve crickets with his foie gras in his Michelin-starred restaurant Aphrodite in Nice at the end of last year. In the US, Mexican restaurant Oyamel is serving grasshopper tacos and David George Gordon has published his Eat-a-Bug-cookbook.
New European studies have shown that men and younger generations are more willing to consider insects as a meat replacement but still 4 out of 5 people totally rejects the idea. In order to really switch to sustainable food, we have to step away from the pop-up idea. The extreme Now or Never-level when licking an insect lollypop will not solve the food crisis. It is important to have innovating gastronomes, such as René Redzepi, who shows you how to conjure up tasty dishes with unusual ingredients. Chefs of his caliber have an influence on our cooking.
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But the key to a better society lies in the knowledge that, apart from proteins, insects also contain more iron than meat and as much calcium as milk – and that they should be accepted in the industry. They require much less space and water than the current food sources and produce 80 times less methane than the livestock we depend on these days. There is hope in the fact that Chapul will work with Starbucks to sell its grasshopper candy bars and Exo protein bars made from cricket flour were funded through Kickstarter last year.