Can you imagine coming home of an evening and licking your lips at the prospect of a meal made of maggots or sharing out a pizza topped with locusts?
You may well wrinkle your nose at such a thought, but one day this sort of creepy-crawly dining could well be the norm, helping to provide an alternative source of protein in an overpopulated world.
University of Queensland researchers are currently looking at how maggots, locusts and various other ‘alternative proteins’ can be used to ‘replace or compliment’ existing sources of protein.
This range of specialty cuisine already includes the likes of ‘insect ice-cream’ and fly larvae sausages, with the Aussie team hoping to tackle the issue of ensuring enough protein for a bulging world population.
Meat Science Professor at the University of Queensland, Dr Louwrens Hoffman, has explained how conventional livestock industries will struggle to meet global demand for meat, unless there are big changes in how we think of food.
Professor Hoffman said:
An overpopulated world is going to struggle to find enough protein unless people are willing to open their minds, and stomachs, to a much broader notion of food.
Would you eat a commercial sausage made from maggots? What about other insect larvae and even whole insects like locusts?
The biggest potential for sustainable protein production lies with insects and new plant sources.
Studies reportedly show how Western consumers who were willing to try out insects in pre-prepared food were not too keen on the thought of consuming or preparing insect-based meals themselves, unless the insects in question had been processed and disguised.
Professor Hoffman explained:
In other words, insect protein needs to be incorporated into existing food products as an ingredient.
For example, one of my students has created a very tasty insect ice-cream.
Professor Hoffman’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) research looks at how larvae from the black soldier fly can be used as a sustainable protein source in chicken production.
It was found broiler chicken diets which include up to 15 per cent larvae meal do not impact upon chicken production performance, nutrient-use efficiency, aroma, flavour, juiciness, tenderness, or long-chain fatty acid composition.
Professor Hoffman continued:
There needs to be a better understanding of the difference between animal feed and human food, and a global reappraisal of what can constitute healthy, nutritional and safe food for all.
Personally, I’d give a scoop of insect ice cream a good go. Anyone who has ever chowed down a 3am kebab from a dubious takeaway really shouldn’t get grossed out about the origin of maggot sausages.
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