Sustainability Week 2021: Grub’s Up!

Milly researched the possibilities of people adopting an insect-based diet for her Extended Project Qualification. She talks here about her findings.

In a fight between a cow and a cricket, you might think a cow would win. From an environmental perspective, think again! It is estimated that around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions arise from livestock, with cows playing it big in the methane game. Insects could be our solution; they produce significantly less greenhouse gas, take up less space and need less feed per kilogram of protein produced. Switching to an insect-based diet seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, food disgust (a food-rejection emotion) is a crucial factor preventing many from serving up a tasty meal of maggots on toast…

For my EPQ I conducted a survey of 428 parents, teachers, and pupils in the Alleyn’s community asking questions assessing food disgust and willingness to try insects. The study found that around 40% of you would try an insect-based meal; males were more willing to try insects than females (about 60/40), and all were more willing if the insects were not visible in the meal. Whilst I predicted that pupils would be the most open to eating insects, it was parents and teachers who took home the trophy, nudging above pupils in their willingness to try insects, most likely due to their lower levels of food disgust.

Insects do not have to be disgusting to eat, in fact insect-food can look appetising. Google IKEA’s bug-burgers and meatballs - no creepy legs or eyeballs in sight, I promise. The climate crisis is scary; we’re watching the world fall to pieces right before our eyes. Having insects in our meals could help us put it back together again. So, let me ask you, if someone offered you bug-grub, would you take a bite?