Science Interviews

Interview

Tue, 2nd Feb 2016

Munching mealworms

Dan Stott, Bug Boys

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Food Security: Insects for Dinner?

Modifiying crops and changing shopping habits is all very well but maybe we're Eating Grasshoppermaking things to complicated, perhaps the answer is right under our... feet. Dan Stott is co-founder of Bug Boys and he got Chris to try some tasty treats.

Dan - We should eat insects for several reasons.  Firstly, they’re really good for our health, they’re very high in protein comparable to some of the highest protein powders on the market.  However, insects are much better for us because they contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals and omegas and, more recently discovered, prebiotics which are great for our gut bacteria.  So for health reasons alone we should be eating them…

Chris - Is this is a valid alternative to me eating meat though?

Dan - Yes.  So, basically, over a span of a year if a family of four eat one meal a week with insects instead of meat, they would save the Earth 650,000 litres of water.

Chris - And where do we get these insects from?  What sort of insects are you talking about encouraging people to eat and are they sustainable to produce?

Dan - At the moment, we’re mainly talking about crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers; they’re the main ones we know most about the nutritional profile of them. In terms of the sustainability side of things, there’s lots of aspects. You need hardly any space to produce them, a little water, a little feed for them - all you need is heat.  Eventually you want to link these farms up with places that are wasting heat.

Chris - You’ve brought in quite a good collection to show us.  Would you like me to eat some of this…

Dan - Yes please!

Chris - I’ve never tried eating any of this.  I saw a street market in Beijing where they were selling things a bit like this.  I eschewed the opportunity at the time!  So what shall we start with?

Dan - So, I think we’ll start off there with an introductory. I’ve made sort of a protein bowl with some dates and nuts and then there’s about 10% in one of them and about 20% cricket flour in the other…

Chris - Chrikets. So this is ground up crickets?

Dan - Ground up crickets, 100%...

Chris - To make a flour?

Dan - And then it makes a more of a powder substance.

Chris - Oh!  That’s delicious. Mmm.  Tell you what, I’ve got here actually to help this go down well.  Because also I’ve got some beer.  I don't normally drink on air but this is special beer - been sent to Felicity this week.  So I’ll just crack into one of these to help wash this down - hold on.  Would you like to try one of these?

Dan - Yes, I’d love to.

Chris - And I shall have a go as well - there we go. Right, cheers everybody - I’m going to give it a try.... Okay marks out of ten for the beer…

Dan - I’d say a nine… give myself a nine for that.

Chris - Alison?

Alison - Yes, definitely a nine.

Chris - I think that’s a nine.  Do you know what that’s made with?  This is beer brewed with "throw away bread". Stuff that would have gone in the bin and actually it’s been used to make beer.  And we’ll find out more about that sort of thing in a second. Meanwhile, what else can you tempt me with, Dan?

Dan - I’ve got some whole insects here.

Chris - Can we eat those?

Dan - Yes, we can eat those.

Chris - I’m feeling daring now.  Now I’ve gone to the 10% level, I feel I can push the boat out a bit.

Dan - So these small ones are buffalo worms.

Chris - Okay…

Dan - These naturally eat plants and grain.

Chris - Actually, they’re dried aren’t they…

Dan - So these are dehydrated - yes.

Chris - They’re actually very nice.  I’m having several handfuls of them.  Umm, how do I describe it.  It’s crunchy, it tastes a bit like chewing on a stick - it’s a bit of woody flavour.  It’s not unpleasant at all, actually. There’s something bigger on the plate - what’s the larger option?

Dan - The grasshoppers.  Slightly larger than the other insects…

Chris - Umm.  That’s the size of my finger and it’s got all it’s head and everything.  Someone’s luckily removed most of the legs because that wouldn’t be too nice.  You want me to eat the whole thing - that’s pretty big…

Dan - It’s really big…

Chris - It doesn’t look so nice… Umm.  Actually, if I just shut my eyes and I didn’t see it, I would say that’s extremely tasty.  It just looks a bit off-putting but once you get past the sort of visual thing…

Dan - It’s that initial barrier at first.

Chris - I think we should ask Alison to have a go as well.

Alison - I’m definitely going to try a cricket…

Chris - I think you should do one of those big grasshoppers…

Alison - Really… I’ll start with a cricket.

Chris - Go on then.

Alison - It is, it’s very good.  You can imagine it as a cracker I think…

Chris - With crackers, with cheese!

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I have eaten crickets and mealworms--they actually can make decent additions to a dish. I understand there is a somewhat of an 'ick' factor in much of Western culture. But given that bugs are considered 'part of a complete breakfast' in parts of Africa and Asia, and the love we have (at least here in America) for shrimp, lobster and crab, I don't think it will take long for the cultural tastes to sway, especially if economics favor land-dwelling arthrpods over their marine cousins... chiralSPO, Tue, 2nd Feb 2016

My next major project will be converting wild locusts into saleable surimi. Trying to raise funding right now. alancalverd, Tue, 2nd Feb 2016

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