As World Edible Insect Day on Tuesday, 23 October creeps closer, rave reviews from researchers and chefs alike suggest edible bugs could be the next big dietary trend. Don’t be fooled by this food of the future as a fad; the data says wrigglers are sustainable, environmentally friendly, a great source of protein and perhaps most importantly, downright delicious.
Entomologist and food scientist Skye Blackburn is a veteran of the edible insect scene and has spent the last ten years educating Australians about the benefits of eating crickets, termites, mealworms and ants from her edible insect farm in Western Sydney. Skye says in the early days her bugs were a hard sell, but thanks to rising media interest and advancing research, demand has hit an all-time high.
“Ten years ago it was an absolute mission to persuade diners or even visitors at food expos to sample my products,” she says. “Now we are inundated with requests from people seeking out our insect marshmallows, ant tea and cricket protein powder to sample for themselves”.
While the health and eco benefits are mounting, edible bugs are also the flavour of the month in the foodie world with celebrity restaurateurs such as Matt Moran and Ben Shewry featuring insects as a staple on their menus. Skye has built up a solid customer base and cites Kylie Kwong as a long-standing supporter who regularly serves cricket wontons and other insect morsels to her appreciative patrons at Billy Kwong, her bespoke Sydney-based eatery.
Whilst Skye concedes for some there is still a ‘yuck factor’ associated, she maintains insects are a superior protein source, with a much lower environmental footprint than any other meat-based protein and this should be reason enough to adjust our practices and palettes for a growing world population. Her research concurs with the United Nations who says we should all be including bugs into our daily diet, in a bid to increase world food supply security.
In February 2019, Skye will join forces with fellow international insect evangelist Dror Tamir, the world’s first commercial grasshopper farmer at evokeAG., an international agrifood tech event bringing a world-class line-up of speakers to Australia to explore ideas shaping the future of food and farming. Flying in from his home country of Israel, Tamir will present his argument for the sustainability of the planet, the protein efficiency of grasshoppers and how global companies such as Ikea and Pepsico are funding research to incorporate insect protein into their product-lines.
As part of the program, both speakers will join industry experts to challenge the conventions of how we think about what we eat and the ethics and impact of those choices.
evokeAG. 2019 will take place in Melbourne at the iconic Royal Exhibition Building on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 February 2019.
“Next year Ms Blackburn will join forces with fellow international insect evangelist Dror Tamir, the world’s first commercial grasshopper farmer at evokeAG. an international agrifood tech event bringing a world-class line-up of speakers to Melbourne to explore ideas shaping the future of food and farming.”
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