Will you be leaving Santa chocolate chirp cookies?

Santa eating chocolate chirp cookies
© iStock/knape © iStock/knape/fotoslaz

From veganism to palm-oil free, the world of sustainable eating is forever changing. Will edible insects be the next big thing?

Insects are eaten as part of a healthy diet in many countries all over the world. However, in the West, many people will find the act of eating insects to be ‘gross’ or ‘unhygienic’, but experts say it could open a “new frontier in food.”

These protein rich meals can be produced using far less land and water. The process of insect cultivation also has a far lower carbon footprint that most meats, such as beef or pork.

At the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, insect producers, scientists and other experts discussed the key issues surrounding insect production and consumption.

“We have got to stop seeing this as a novelty,” said Stefano Pascucci, Professor in sustainability and circular economy at the University of Exeter.

“Insects are commonly eaten around the world, but they’re not really part of the food culture in the West.

“If we could get over this disgust and neophobia (fear of new things) we could open a new frontier in food.”

Insect based foods were served at the event, these products included insect brownies, chocolate chirp cookies and crackers. One of the reasons for them being served in this manner is because a form in which insects are not served whole is believed to be more palatable to consumers, according to Dr Olivia Champion, the founder of the University of Exeter’s company Entec Nutrition.

“If you tried an insect-based food, could you tell the difference? Would you know what you were eating? Would you care?” she asked.

Dr Champion highlighted that mealworm production requires one twelfth of the food and 2,000 times less water than producing the same quantity of beef, with greenhouse gas emissions being 100 times lower.

Farmed insects can be fed of industry biproducts, such as leftover grain from breweries. This method of production has both financial and environmental benefits.

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