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Eat more insects Exeter professors plead

Academics chew it over with cricket brownies

Insects are good for you, and we should eat more of them, according to Exeter University boffins.

Over snacks of cricket brownies and chocolate chirp cookies, academics have debated how westerners could get their teeth stuck into bugs, just like our friends in Asia and Africa. Insects are the "new frontier in food," they claim, if only we could get over the 'yuk-factor'.

“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". 

Serving them up in biscuits, cakes or cookies could help them be more palatable to consumers, according to Dr Olivia Champion, founder of University of Exeter company Entec Nutrition, which is developing insect-based foods.

Insects can be fed on waste products such as used grain from breweries – another benefit both financially and environmentally. Professor David Hosken, also of the University of Exeter, said sustainability is becoming increasingly important to today’s youth. He said retailers will respond to customer demand – so insects could become a more common sight on the shelves of your local supermarket.

Ed Tomlin, Director of Six Feet Farms, which breeds crickets for food products, said insect-based food is a “fledgling industry” but he hopes his firm is “ahead of the curve”. He said Six Feet Farms focusses on products made from cricket powder, as this helps avoid the “yuk factor” some people feel about eating insects.

Eating insects is just one part of a journey to improved sustainability, because they can be used as feed for farm animals, including farmed fish too, thus reducing the use of soy beans, for which vast areas of land are used, and overfishing of krill to feed farmed fish such as salmon.

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