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2 posts from December 2015

04 December 2015

Can eating insects feed the world in 2050?

  640px-Insect_food_stall
Deep-fried locusts, crickets and beetles for sale on a food stall in Bangkok, Thailand.
CC By-SA 3.0.

Many non-western cultures already eat insects [entomophagy]: in Thailand its a common streetfood as you can see in the picture, but its an unusual  and frankly unheard of cuisine in the UK.  AS you will see though, CABI staff have an interest in entomophagy AND we have blogged about global entomophagy before [Roasted grasshopper with a sprinkling of termites].

On 18th November 2015, studio guests, and listeners, of BBC Radio 4 - Midweek were treated to the experience of eating insects as food!  Dr Sarah Beynon, an entomologist was a guest: she is on a mission to both educate the UK public on the importance of insects (including wasps and spiders) and to provide sustainable food by farming tropical insects. 

She had brought in samples of insect protein  which is on the menu at her café, The Grub Kitchen. The café is the latest venture for her Bugfarm in Wales, which functions as  a research & education centre as well as providing dungbeetles for UK farmers to convert dung into compost! 

Guests sounded wary but chef Michel Roux Jnr pronounced the chocolate cookie made with ground cricket flour, sugar and chocolate, as “very nice” and described it as both chocolatey and having a novel “meaty” taste.  Another description was “marmity”: hardly surprising considering marmite was developed from yeast as an alternative to meat extract. 

Weight for weight, we were told, cricket flour is higher in protein than beef. 

Other delicacies available at the café include grasshoppers (taste like tea), mealworm hummus, and gourmet bug burgers containing mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers. By customer request coming soon will be burgers containing crunchy intact mealworms!

Food security for 2050: using insect protein will take the pressure off agricultural land

“WE need to look at new ways of producing food and we think this [tropical insect farming] is one of the ways of doing it” declared Dr Beynon.

In this post, I will also highlight CABI's role in ProteINSECT, the EU programme trialling insect protein in animal feed as a way to meet the meat demands expected for 2050, and at the same time minimise environmental impact.

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03 December 2015

What is a sustainable diet? - a vision from the FENS conference

Climate change is on everyone’s lips, but we are only just beginning to see how our diets might need to change to help prevent it and deal with the challenges of a growing population. I heard more about the question of sustainable diets at a series of sessions at the FENS conference on nutrition last month that I attended in my capacity as nutrition subject specialist for Global Health database.  Dr Karl von Koerber of the Sustainable Nutrition Working Group in Munich, Germany, gave us the best view of what might constitute sustainable diet in Europe. It looks more like this:

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than this:

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