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The project: Insects as a food for the future

This project aims to develop the potential of insects as food in the Western hemisphere. Through an interdisciplinary cooperation, we at the Nordic Food Lab will study existing practices and methods for breeding, collection and preparation techniques and create a gastronomic argument that will make insects an acceptable food in the Western world, and thus make way for the cultural change that is necessary to make insects an accepted food source in the West.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) insects have, from a nutritional perspective, similar qualities to other meat sources. Insects have similar or higher content of protein, and contain a variety of fatty acids and vitamins that are important to humans. Breeding of insects also has a range of advantages compared to traditional livestock breeding – not least from an environmental perspective.

An acceptance of insects as food in the Western world can help create a real solution to the challenges that arise from the accelerating global food demand. This change can happen with the creation of knowledge and development of products that gradually build acceptance. We will thus – with gastronomic craft and scientific afterthought – challenge the existing cultural taboos.

The project has three primary targets:

• To develop new taste experiences based on our research and findings, with the aim to grant chefs the necessary culinary knowledge, expertise and inspiration to build on our findings, and thus help the development of the future gastronomic products and experiences.

• To increase biodiversity in food consumption by including insects as a basic food commodity, and thus contribute to the implementation of insect breeding in western agricultural industry.

• To give both the public and industry knowledge and inspiration, and thus contribute to an increased use of insects as food in the West.

The project is cross-disciplinary and consists of: 1) An anthropological survey, that will map out the social, cultural and historical processes in the rejection of insects as an acceptable food in the West, 2) a consumer study that explores the experiential and perceptual processes that determine the acceptability of insects as food, and 3) a culinary and gastronomic survey and analysis, that will determine the various potentials of insects as food. This cross-disciplinary approach will lead to the development of products that establish interest, knowledge and demand for edible insects.

As there is no common practice or culinary tradition for eating insects as foodstuff on the European continent it is necessary to conduct a research expedition to explore the ways in which insects are traditionally used in cooking practices in other world regions. The project will hence consist of a preparatory survey, followed by fieldwork in South- and Central America and East Asia, in the gastronomic quest to explore the use of insects in existing cultural and culinary practices. This will eventually lead to a consolidation of results from research and field work, and lay the foundations for a range of concrete strategies, methods and recipes.

Throughout the project our results will be simultaneously published through the press, scientific journals, conferences and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, in which we are already established actors.

To disseminate the consumption of insects as food, called “entomophagy”, is not a philanthropic project as such, but can create real possibilities for growth on a global level that are environmentally, economically and commercially viable. By creating an early gastronomic angle on insects as food we can prepare the food industry, restaurant industry and public alike for the food situation of the future, in which biodiversity, sustainability and alternative foodstuffs will be in focus.

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