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Would you try mealworms with your macadamias?

Are you an adventurous eater? In this series, Australian Macadamias looks at the food trends that are challenging perceptions around what we eat, as well as talking to the people who are pushing the boundaries of adventurous eating. And when it comes to adventurous eating, nothing beats edible insects…

Edible insects have been on the menu in Asian and African countries for thousands of years. In those cultures, bugs are often delicacies not a food of last resort. But even though mainstream Australia doesn’t have that long culinary tradition, people are increasingly considering the benefits of edible insects.

Edible insects are no longer taboo in Australia

Skye Blackburn from the Edible Bug Shop has seen first hand these attitudes change. “When we started in 2007, if we were doing a special event where we were giving out samples it would be like there was a big force-field around us. People didn’t want to come near us because they were afraid”. 

But at her recent cooking demonstration at the Sydney Royal Easter Show people proved to be much more willing to taste test her products. In fact, people seemed to be eager to try. “Now, they’ve already had that internal dialogue with themselves about whether or not they would try eating a bug…it makes it a lot easier to take that next step and try insects for the first time,” Skye says.

Conversation starter: Eucalyptus, macadamia and mealworm chocolate crackles by Skye Blackburn

Why give edible insects a go?

Despite the fact that they all have unique (and often tasty!) flavour profiles, many people are squeamish about eating mealworms, ants or crickets, preferring to stick with the proteins they are familiar with. However, in doing so, they miss out on an incredibly nutritious – and sustainably produced wholefood. 

“In fact, most insects are a natural, protein-packed superfood,” Skye explains. “They are really high in protein. There’s lots of calcium and iron in there as well. Lots of essential micronutrients like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They also contain a high amount of B12 vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and have a complete amino acid profile.” 

Insect farming is an incredibly low impact process which makes them a sustainable protein source. Bugs can be fed on a diet of fruit and vegetable waste from commercial food production and, with their short life cycles, they are able to go from farm to fork incredibly quickly.

“The bugs don’t fart, either” says Skye Blackburn, highlighting another benefit: they don’t contribute methane emissions into the atmosphere.

Bestsellers: Cricket, macadamia and caramel swirl marshmallows from Kylie Kwong and Edible Bug Shop.

How to become an adventurous eater

If you are intellectually convinced by these arguments, the next step is a taste test. As with any new ingredient, you can simply incorporate them into a familiar context. This technique is tried and tested by Kylie Kwong in her Sydney restaurant, Billy Kwong. In fact, her macadamia marshmallow creation is one of the Edible Bugs Shop’s best sellers!

If you are keen to try this cutting-edge culinary experience at home, try incorporating edible cricket powder for additional protein into your next flavoursome curry or adding a tablespoon when baking white chocolate and macadamia cookies. You might also add some edible snacking crickets in with your macadamia mix at your next BBQ. It’s a guaranteed talking point among guests!

Are you a little squeamish about this subject or are you a more adventurous eater? Share your ideas about adventurous eating with us on our Facebook page!

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