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Carolina Oliveira
1 year ago
A Novel Future is Now: Insect-Based Foods

As we jumped to the 21st century, questions surrounding the growth of the world's population and how to feed everyone are reaching a common sense: we'll need more food, and it can't be animal meat. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the global population will reach nine billion people, and worldwide food production must double to feed us all.

And as livestock has a huge carbon footprint and is a hazard to climate change, a big question mark lies in protein availability for our future selves. Some say it's a plant-based future. Some others say it is an insect-based future. 

Right in 2020, the European Union regulation for "Novel Foods" - and that means foods that were not available for a large audience before May of 1997 - are slowly changing. In 2018, the catalog of new foods was broadened by the Commission, and insects were included but not authorized. Thus, the legal acceptance of each European country is still a grey area.

So far, only two countries in the EU have authorized the commerce, production, and importation of insects from outside of the zone: Finland and Denmark. And another three nations can produce and commercialize: Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium. Also, the UK and Switzerland legalized their insect production and industry. For all the others, it's still needed - and waited - a decision from the Commission. 

And each approval takes almost one year and a half, from the online submission of the food to the final verdict. It was expected by the end of this year to have a list of approved edible insects, including crickets, locusts, and grasshoppers, but as we are living in uncertain days, it's still unknown when it'll be legal for the whole EU. "The process of authorization concentrates on thorough scientific evaluation of potential food safety risks for consumers. This outcome definitely raises the level of trust among consumers to the direction where farmed insects are considered as food same way as other livestock," says Jakko Korpela, CEO of EntoCube.

In Finland, since November of 2017, the commercialization of edible insects is approved by Evira, sealing the consumption of safe foods in a 44-page booklet available on their website. One company that emerged altogether with the guidelines is EntoCube. Creating technologies to simplify the farming of insects at home (or for food-producing companies), it facilitates the use of crickets in kitchens all over Finland and other countries in Europe, by selling DIY kits to grow, feed, and harvest your crickets. A small beginner kit produces 14 kg of crickets per month with 2-3 hours of labor time per week.

But even though Finland has a leading role in legalizing and promoting insect-based foods, the acceptance is slow, but steadily growing, due to brave producers like ChefBug. "The number of consumers has been increasing with time. That is why I want to produce positive experiences for our customers by offering delicious food and products. I also want to guide people in making tasty foods with insects. This is how I, too, became an insect fan. The insects have a wonderfully nutty taste that is suitable for savory and sweet foods, as well as baking," says Aija Viitaniemi, CEO of the company, spreading a good word on insects as food.

As prejudice decreases, humanity sees a much brighter future ahead. Today, two billion people worldwide eat insects regularly, and since prehistoric times. So, if you like shrimps and other seafood, don't run away from insects, as they taste as good as their cousins from the ocean. Insects are full of protein, and their farming is much more sustainable, doesn't take much space or natural resources.

Soon, the regulations for all European Union will be released by the Commission, and we'll be able to see in a more broaden sense how other countries will deal with the novelty. With the fast changes in food trends, insects can even be in a near future, the next craze. Only time, and open minds, will tell.

Photo: ChefBug (@Herkkuhyönteiset) and EntoCube (@Entocube)

Edited 1 year ago Oy ChefBug Oy Ltd #lähiruoka #SupportYourLocals
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