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Good grub? Danish researchers win funding to show that insects can be delicious

By Nathan Gray+

17-Jun-2013
Last updated the 17-Jun-2013 at 09:58 GMT

Tasty? The new €500,000 research project will work on ways to show people that insects can be delicious and not just a novelty...
Tasty? The new €500,000 research project will work on ways to show people that insects can be delicious and not just a novelty...

A new Danish research project aims to promote the widespread adoption of insects in our diets by showing that bugs and grubs are not only good for you, but are also delicious.

The project, run by Nordic Food Lab and University of Copenhagen, has received a €500,000 funding investment from The Velux Foundation’s programme for environment and sustainability that will help to build knowledge on how to utilise insects in everyday foods.

The team, led by Dr Michael Bom Frøst, director of Nordic Food Lab, noted that while many other researchers are focusing on the environmental and nutritional benefits of eating insects (known as entomophagy) – there has been very little work done on ‘how to make them delicious’.

“Much important work is being carried out by others. But the missing piece is a focus on deliciousness,” said Frøst.

“It is our goal to provide that missing argument, so that insects become not edible novelty but celebrated ingredients with high gastronomic value.”

The project, titled ‘Discerning Taste: Deliciousness as an Argument for Entomophagy’ will last three years and is due to begin this month.

Professor Jørgen Eilenberg and a team of researchers at the University of Copenhagen will also work with Frøst and his colleagues in order to investigate important entomological, microbiological, and pathological aspects of insects as a food source.

Not just a novelty

Last month, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) published a report that supports the idea that insects could play a vital role in food security in the coming decades. However, the FAO report noted that disgust remains a barrier for consumers in many Western countries.

“Because of their nutritional composition, accessibility, simple rearing techniques and quick growth rates, insects can offer a cheap and efficient opportunity to counter nutritional insecurity by providing emergency food and by improving livelihoods and the quality of traditional diets among vulnerable people,” said the report.

“…Influencing the public at large as well as policymakers and investors in the food and feed sectors by providing validated information on the potential of insects as food and feed sources can help to push insects higher on political, investment and research agendas worldwide.”

Frøst and his team added that the argument that insects are tasty and delicious will also help to influence populations and policy makers.