The Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen which was founded by René Redzepi and Claus Meyer in 2008 is a non-profit foundation for research into food and its culture “dedicated to fresh and bold ideas”. In 2012, the Nordic Food Lab seriously began to experiment with insects. Today, Redzepi has left the project and Roberto Flore, the food lab manager, has instead involved the department for food science at the University of Copenhagen. The result is the book On Eating Insects.
Entomophagy (eating insects) is probably the sustainable protein source of the future. If the human population reaches the estimated nine billion by 2050, our current environment trashing rates and methods of meat production won’t keep up. Compared to beef and pork, insects are a healthy choice: low in fat and high in calcium.
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“The book On Eating Insects: Essays, Stories and Recipes published by Phaidon might be the most authoritative book to explore the science, ethics, culture, and increasingly popular gastronomy of insects,” wrote the A.V. Club.
Book from Scandinavia: On Eating Insects
However, insects are not the miraculous future salvation, and Mark Bomford is clear about this up front in the book’s introduction. Bomford, who is director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, says the problems we face as ‘a moderately successful social animal with a poor feed-conversion ratio’ are far too complex to be solved so easily. Although entomophagy would cause far less environmental damage than cattle farming, he thinks we can do better. He goes on to make the surprising claim that we’d be more humane, take far fewer lives and cause much less environmental damage if we could find a sensible way to eat large whales.
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“From Bee Bread Butter to Moth Mousse, On Eating Insects will change the way you look at Nature’s most plentiful animals… absolutely crawling with data and details, providing a rich wealth of insights into infinite possibilities,” wrote CraveOnline
Why don’t we eat insects in the West?
The question underpinned in the book is a simple one: why don’t we eat insects in the West, and how do we get people to eat them? For four years Nordic Food Lab has brought experts from multiple fields together to work and investigate the subject of insects as food and how in a rigorous and scientific way. Apart from being a fascinating look into the subject complete with recipes, the book is also a work of huge importance.
The chefs and academics of the Nordic Food Lab collective have assembled a series of essays, travelogues and recipes designed to take readers on a journey through ‘land, life, culture, ecology, meaning and mystery’.
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“Once every decade or so there is a book that deserves to be read, and read carefully and considered seriously by people and policymakers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds… Insects will not save us, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be eaten; we just have to be realistic about them and the role they could play. This book has the ability to start a truthful conversation about the issue. Chefs, food professionals, and those interested in ecosystems, sustainability and cultural and human diversity will find it engaging and of huge interest,” wrote InGoodTastesUK.com.
An almost scientific approach
The work that Ben Reade, Josh Evans, Roberto Flore and Michael Bom Frøst have undertaken with the Lab has a rigorous and almost scientific approach. From investigating how politics and power relate to insects, how people perceive the idea of eating them, how to get people to eat them, to the actual entomology, the team focused on all of it, and their conclusions are laid out in essays by the team members. There are also tales from their time in the field studying first-hand how different cultures view and eat insects, and the cultural significance they attach to them. The team travelled from Scandinavia to Australia, and across Africa, South America, and South East Asia in the course of their work. With ‘open hearts and mouths’ they investigated ‘where and when specific insects can help cultivate more diverse, resilient local food-systems’.
“A vast-ranging study into the culture and cuisines that already eat insects and what we can learn from them as well as investigating the sustainable issues around what would happen if we all switched to eating grubs and grasshoppers,” wrote PebbleMag.com
This book has the ability to start a truthful conversation about the issue.
“The first publication to take a comprehensive culinary view on eating insects and how to prepare, cook and enjoy them,” wrote Port-Magazine.com
Book from Scandinavia: On Eating Insects, written by Tor Kjolberg