Eating insects is the latest foodie trend to hit London. Here, we chat to Ento, an organisation that wants to introduce insects into the Western diet, about why creepy crawly cuisine isn't just a gimmick.
Eating bugs is good for the environment. Global food demand is accelerating, and agricultural productivity can’t keep up. Much of the increase in food demand will be for meat, which has a huge environmental impact. Insects have a much smaller environmental footprint than livestock. They have a high feed conversion efficiency, which means that you get 9 times as much grasshopper meat as beef for the same amount of food.
Bugs don’t taste like you expect. Insects tend to have a subtle, savoury flavour, which goes against people’s preconceptions. We assume the strength of the taboo will be reflected in the strength of the taste, but this isn’t the case. They are a protein-rich meat, so the flavours are comparable to other sources of protein, which tend to have a savoury taste. Honey caterpillars have a delicate nutty flavour similar to pistachio when roasted. And grasshoppers have hints of mushroom and yeast extract – almost like marmite!
Bugs are low-calorie. Insects are a healthy, low fat source of protein, rich in vitamins and minerals. Grasshoppers are probably the healthiest option because they’re a very lean meat. Even the fattier insects like Honey Caterpillars are nutritionally beneficial, as they are rich in unsaturated fat.
One of Ento’s dishes
Bugs are delicious. We have just started working with Bee drone larvae and have found them to be particularly delicious, with a rich creamy flavour. They’ve been eating nothing but honey all their lives – how could they not be delicious?
Bugs will fill you up. As insects are rich in protein, you can have smaller portion sizes than you would with other meats. We usually estimate that around 100g is suitable for a main course. With regards to the number of insects, this obviously depends on the type, so could be anywhere from 50 to 500.
Bugs that are suitable for eating can be hard to find. We source our insects from a supplier in the Netherlands who specifically farms them for human consumption. We are also in talks with other farms around Europe, but ideally we would like to source them from a UK farm to reduce the food miles.
Don’t be scared. Preconceptions about eating insects run deep in our culture, so most people are intimidated by the idea at first. However when they see our foods and the way they are presented, the barrier is lowered significantly. And once people have had their first delicious bite, it almost goes away completely. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Ento is working with Grey Goose to host a three-day insect fine dining pop-up restaurant in London from 15 August to 17 August. Click here for more information.