Edible Insects: Reinventing Entomophagy for the 21st Century 

It may be easier to introduce edible insects in cultures where it is not uncommon to eat insects. Olsen and Mohammed Hussen Alemu, Ph.D Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, together with several other colleagues, conducted a study in Kenya funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through the GREEiNSECT project to determine the effects of recommendation, shopping location, nutritional value and food safety on consumer acceptance and willingness to pay for edible insects as food. The study concluded a higher willingness to pay for insect products if they are the recommended by the authority and sold in larger supermarkets; it also increases if the product is nutritious and safe to consume.“We found positive preferences for edible insects across more or less all segments of our study, including relatively high-income people living in urban areas who have lost their insect-eating tradition a long time ago,” explains Alemu. “These people are likely more similar to people from Western countries than the poorer respondents in our survey who live in rural areas.”“What can probably be transferred from the Kenyan to the Western setting from our study is the finding that information about the benefits of edible insects as well as ensuring trust in food safety are of key importance for consumer acceptability.”According to Olsen and Alemu, insect-eating has a big immediate potential as a staple food in developing countries, where demand for animal protein is increasing but supply is struggling to keep up. Insects may also become a staple food in Western countries but probably only in the longer run, especially if environmental concerns keep growing, the consequences of climate change become more apparent and consumer awareness about the environmental impacts of food choices grows.“If there are millions of people eating insects without problems in the developing countries, especially for enjoyment and not just because they are forced to eat it, it would probably be a great inspiration for Western consumers, food industry and policy-makers.”Olsen and Alemu believe that insect-eating has a lot of benefits that fit right into the organic and raw food trends as they are healthy, nutritious and environmentally friendly. Due to the lack of history and negative attitude towards insect-eating, it is doubtful in the near future that the West will begin consuming insects in large quantities either as supplements or even substitutes for meat and fish. This, however, is not a reason to suspend research and future development.“If it can become a staple food in many of the developing countries (but maybe not in the West) it will still be a success due to the improvements in nutrition, food security, reduced GHG emissions and possibly reductions in other forms of pollution,” concludes Olsen.

Source: Reinventing Entomophagy for the 21st Century | Bugible

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