Posted on

What’s all the buzz about?

Fried insects on the streets of Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand

My first real blog post – why my enthusiasm about edible insects is growing.

Edible insects don’t taste as you might expect, they don’t look appetising to most of us in the UK as we have over time perfected a ‘yuck’ response to protect ourselves from eating something that will make us ill. If something looks like it has insects in it then our learned response taps us on the shoulder and says ‘nope! it’s been out for days and has gone bad’. So when presented with edible insects our first response has to be over-ridden. So I have to encourage people to over-ride their instinctive responses. No mean feat! On the plus side, if you are reading this then you are at the very least curious.

So why is my enthusiasm growing despite the size of the task? Well firstly the taste often great! They don’t taste as I expected and many of them are really moreish. Secondly, with population growth of humans around the world we need to open our minds to different food and protein sources. Thirdly, the trailblazers have been at it for a little while and are coming up with some inspired ideas.

So to YumBugs. I have been trying all sorts of recipes and inventing new ones to develop my first range of edible insect products. Due to their taste I have found that they taste even better when married up with nuts as the two really enhance each other. I decided to make my first range for children’s packed lunches or snacks as I find it hard to find snacks for my kids that are a little different (they get bored quickly with repeat options) and that doesn’t contain a ridiculous amount of sugar. My children love mealies and crickets, grasshoppers and ants and pretty much everything I have given them to try. Little kids haven’t had time to develop their ‘yuck’ response and are just inquisitive which is wonderful to see. A lovely example I had of this recently was when we were all sitting in front of the fire after playing in the snow drinking hot chocolate and sharing a bag of dried crickets.

Population growth and the trailblazers! I recently attended an inspiring conference in The Netherlands on edible insects and the value chain. This was in Ede-Wageningen and there were researchers and business representatives from over 50 countries. What really struck me was the research into processing insects and the nutritional benefits. Many insects such as mealies and crickets have a large amount of good quality protein, micro nutrients, minerals, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. I learned so much that my next blog will be about my highlights of that conference. Population growth in the next 30 years means we simply won’t be able to produce the food we need with the land we have available unless we rethink our systems and open our minds to expanding our palates and tingling our taste buds.

Marcel Dicke did an excellent TED talk on eating insects a few years ago. He presented at the conference in Ede-Wageningen and was just as eloquent and inspiring.