Even the most ardent carnivore must admit that now, in 2017 our desire for big fat burgers and crispy chicken is not sustainable. We don’t have the farmland, the water, or the grain to feed all these animals. Now meat consumption is increasing rapidly in Asia and India we really have a problem. A protein innovation is required and fast. So, inspired by South East Asia (and I’m sure many other countries too) how about insects?
Meet Sarah and Andy. She’s an entomologist and he’s a chef. They met and fell in love while working in a restaurant and never expected their career paths to cross. Together they run a farm in St Davids, Pembrokeshire and, alongside the beef herd, their main concern is their busy farm cafe. It’s a real one-off. Welcome to Grub Kitchen. Fancy a pan-fried locust or a bug burger? This is the place for you. The locusts look like how you’d expect but the bug burger looks quite normal and insect decorations have to be added to make it look special. One customer calls it a “suspiciously tasty veggie burger”, but there’s no hint of suspicion here. This couple are evangelical about their bugs and the new way of eating we should all be embracing to give poor old planet Earth a break.
Despite the strange things going on in the kitchen, this is a proper Welsh farm with a very decent looking beef herd. Sarah can make real world comparisons on a daily basis. The bugs she keeps are easier to look after, they eat waste and barely need any water. Sarah loves bugs, and uses them to educate children about the importance of creepy crawlies. She’s doing great work for their PR.
Andy and Sarah have a plan for some entry-level bug food, to get people over the idea that it’s somehow strange to eat. As mentioned above, a few million people in South East Asia would beg to disagree. They’re working on cricket cookies – just 10% powdered bug, plus flour, chocolate and other traditional cookie ingredients. They plan to sell them in shops, maybe one day supermarkets. Will people go for it?
We see them on a visit to their suppliers in the Netherlands to show they’re suitable for human consumption, and the boxed crickets stress levels don’t get too high. Watch out guys! There’s another vegan battle ground all ready to open up. You need to keep those crickets happy and chilled.
Their testing ground is the lovely and extremely middle-class Hay Festival. Sarah and Andy are surrounded by their cheerful and chipper peers all being lovely to each other. How can they possibly get decent, honest feedback from this non-critical mass? Of course – send in the children! Happily the kids seem to get over the initial ick factor very easily. Good cookies that are entirely relatable to normal every day food are key – the gateway bug drug. The kids interviewed also seem clued-up and concerned about the environment, which bodes extremely well for the future.
After surprisingly positive results at a market research centre, Celtic Manor Hotel are happy to be their first customers. We leave Sarah and Andy on a high, aiming for more conference venues and posh shops. And as shoppers know, if they appear in Waitrose and M&S then people will aspire to them on the posh shelves in Tesco and Asda too. It’s the *ahem* scuttle down effect. I wish them well and I’m looking forward to a lovingly cooked bug burger in my future.