Food With Insects: Idea To Reality

Generally if we are eating something and see the insects in that, we certainly feel disgusting. But now no need of such feeling. Because the insects as human food is not just idea now as there are startup projects increasing their focus in this issue. And why to not to focus if insects can provide you one of best, easy and more sustainable source of animal protein without compromising with burdening the natural resources.

There is increasing research on this area to find it more and more applicable but still public acceptance is challenging task. But to eat insect directly may be disgusting but convert them in other food products or use them in regular food such as bakery products, juices etc may be another way to make it acceptable in society. Let’s check what the startup innovators in this area are saying…

It is my great pleasure to introduce, Dr Rechard Pinter, working in this field.

Rechard Pinter: In the sensory test, the member of the panel liked better the breads with insects than the normal control one. The insect give a favorable aroma while increase the protein and decrease the carbohydrate content. Our studies have shown that insect powders can be used to gluten-free products.

How did you move towards this concept? What was your primary idea about edible insects?

The primary idea about edible insect is to increase the acceptance with the western civilization, through offer a functional bakery products in non-visible form.

 From where you will get the raw material? What will be raw material and products in this project?

Now we get the raw material from small producer in Hungary (pet food), in the future we want to build up our own insect farm, and processing plant. First we will work with mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, the “TM” in the name of start-up) 

The two types of melworm powder, the browner is the one with higher protein content, the brighter is with increased fiber (chitin) smells like whole grain flour with some earthy aroma

What is actually procedure and R & D in this project?

Our processing method offer a non-chemical separation, to increase the protein content of the dried insect powder. 

Sponge cake with insect powders. (Left to right: 5% insect powder, control, 3% insect powder. The insects don’t cause taste different in the used amount. In sweet products, the sweet taste rules the popularity. Easy to use for healthy cakes without aftertaste).

How it is environmentally sustainable to run this project?

As the insect can transform the industrial by-products more effective way than the traditional livestock to high quality nutrient, with low ecological footprint, it will be the part of the diet of the humanity. If everyone could do a bite day by day for the future with a tasty and healthy slice of bread, our future will be brighter. 

Long bread with seeds and mealworm powder. (From left to right in the 1st picture: control, 5% insect powder, 10% insect powder (substitution in proportion to normal wheat flour)

Does this idea contribute in ecological benefits?

We believe everyone have to do for a sustainable future, think global, act local. The edible insect offers exactly it. Most of the consumers can eat it, because it is looks and taste similar like the traditional bakery products.

 Which problems are you finding implementation of this projects?

The two main problems are the government rules and the public acceptance, but the regulation is under process and the education of the consumers increase the acceptance easily.

Is there any risk in these project?

Well, the insect contain allergic compound, as a new food ingredients is appearing brings health risk.
The other risk, and as I think, the biggest risk, is the insect rearing, specially the feeding. As the insects are nature converters, can eat almost anything, the industrial size offer chance for cheating, and feed the insects those kinds of materials, which does not meet traceability criteria. Regulating and verifying this is not easy, and if no solution is found, the lack of uniform regulation can create a barrier to the proliferation of insect-derived products. 

Crunchy biscuit with different amount of mealworm powder. (From left to right: 20 % of insect powder, control, 30% of insect powder. (Substitution in proportion to normal wheat flour) minimal taste difference, reduced carbohydrate content)

What about public acceptance?

The public acceptance is depending on the education. Our experiences show that person, who has the chance to get information before taste, not just want to taste, want to eat it and buy it. A swiss research show, the price also have an effect for the acceptance. The higher price is better, because the consumer’s believe the insects are gourmet food, and the gourmet foods have to be expensive.

 Your further plans?

In the future we want to build up our factory, and we want to increase our team with marketing and breeder specialist.

About the Author
Kapilkumar is an Indian research fellow at Tel Aviv University. His academic background is of environmental science. He studied journalism at Pune University, India and completed his intern at Lokmat newspaper, one of the leading newspapers in Maharashtra state of India. Kapilkumar is interested in addressing the challenges relating to climate change by using the fields of journalism and environment together.
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