It’s usually bad news when shops report an influx of bugs in their cafeterias.
But famous UK department store Selfridges has invited all kinds of crawlies into its food halls this week, creepy and otherwise, to show the world that insects can be a healthy, tasty addition to a mainstream diet.
The high-end store already sells ants covered in dark chocolate — a delicacy in Colombia, where the salty snacks, called hormigas culonas, translate quite literally as “big ass ants” — and have previously stocked edible, Cambodian tarantulas.
Now, the Guardian reports that the store has added fig protein bars made from cricket flour; basil fusilli pasta and pumpkin seed granola, both created with ground buffalo worm flour; and a variety of other products created by the quickly expanding French brand Jimini’s, exclusively sold by Selfridges in the UK.
It’s good for your body, amazing for the planet, and most importantly, looks cute in puns on Instagram: "Who run the world? Worms!”; “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! a worm after midnight”; “I have 99 problems but eating insects solves one!”
Insects are full of essential proteins, amino acids, and vitamins. Indeed, Jimini’s states that there’s twice as much iron in crickets than in spinach — and because insects take up less space and water, consume fewer resources, and emit 99% less greenhouse gases than cows, an insect-based diet can be amazing for the planet, too.
And for the 815 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), more insects in the food production chain could be a sustainable answer — especially since those lacking nutrition are often from the lower to middle income countries that will most likely face the consequences of climate change, exacerbated by global overconsumption of meat.
Plus, the whole range undeniably looks extremely cool.
“We are sure our epicurious customers will be surprised and delighted discovering the new range in store,” said Edward Goodman, Selfridges’ food buying director.
Scientists around the world came together on Jan. 16 to urge the world to adopt a “planetary health diet” to avoid environmental catastrophe: massively reducing red meat consumption; getting most protein from pulses and nuts; and ensuring half of your plate is made up of fruit and veg.
And getting more insects into your diet can definitely play a part.
There are more than 1,900 edible insect species on Earth, according to a report released by the FAO in 2013, with over 2 billion people already eating them on a regular basis.
But rich countries just don’t. When we think about pasta made from worms, perhaps people imagine picking one up between your thumb and index finger, watching it wiggle and dance, then knocking it back with Ant & Dec laughing maniacally behind their hands in the background.
Yet when it comes to a Sunday roast, it’s unlikely you picture a trip down to the Hundred Acre Wood to take a nibble out of Piglet and his mates. The difference is probably just marketing.
But as more and more businesses want a slice of worm pie — the global edible insect market is set to be worth over £395 million by 2023 — the way many of us think about such a diet will surely change.
Indeed, it already is. Last November, Sainsbury’s became the first major UK supermarket to sell roasted crickets as snacks with the British food brand Eat Grub.
“Having sold over 10,000 packs of Eat Grub crickets in less than three months, we’re continuing to see Sainsbury’s customers explore edible insects as a new sustainable protein source,” said Katherine O’Sullivan, buying manager at Sainsbury’s. “We’re always looking to provide our customers with new and exciting products such as these.”