Three insect food pioneers

mealwormsLast week I wrote about if and how ordinary consumers could ever be persuaded to eat insects – a potential protein source for a growing global population. There are any number of articles written every year about how insects are a food of the future, and reports from food research institutes outlining the benefits. But at some point, someone has to step up and start making it happen – farming the insects, finding ways to process them, and most of all, marketing them in a way that actually convinces people to eat them.

It’s still a risky business, but a handful of entrepreneurs are already betting that they can make insects accessible as a food. Here are three:

The Grub Kitchen – Britain’s first insect-speciality restaurant, The Grub Kitchen serves a whole variety of dishes including an insect burger or cookies made from locust flour. It’s a natural extension to the local attraction The Bug Farm, and visitors can tour the insect zoo before tucking in. There’s an activist angle here too, with the website saying they are “deliciously demonstrating how we can eat more sustainably now, and for the future.” If you want proof that insects make good eating, the menu here shows just how tasty and versatile they can be. Ten year old boys who want to eat something freaky will find plenty to enjoy, but their more squeamish parents may well be won over too.

Bug Muscle – The folks behind Bug Muscle have capitalised on the high protein content of insects and created a bug based muscle-building supplement. Aimed squarely at the health foods and bodybuilding market, they claim that their product is more sustainable, but also tastes better, and is higher quality and healthier than most alternatives. A promising pitch, not least because the mainstream whey and soy based protein powders aren’t exactly appetising, and there ought to be room for a challenger. Less promising is a website that invites us to stay tuned for a grand opening in 2015. Perhaps, like some of the bemused ant drones crawling about on the garden path this week, this one has failed to fly.

Grub – This one I may actually use, since there’s no insect aisle in the supermarket just yet. Eat Grub is an online store selling insects for home consumption. There are energy bars, snacking crickets, and insects for cooking. The range is neatly branded and packaged, making the whole idea seem as normal as it will one day be. There are lots of recipe ideas and even a cook book, so this the place to start if you’re curious. Mealworm satay, anyone?

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