As crickets chirped in the background, Jakub Dzamba presented his vision of the future at the Future Food Salon hosted by Alimentary Initiatives.
Dzamba, an architecture Ph.D. student at McGill University, has designed a system of raising crickets called Third Millennium Farming. He envisions a future where waste streams can be used in cities to raise insects like crickets as a sustainable food source. Dzamba is hardly alone in his enthusiasm for eating bugs. In 2012, the European Union invested 3 million euros in researching insects as a form of protein and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. recently published a report on edible insects.
Dzamba is also working out the details of raising crickets for today's world. Here in 2013, his farms are small household devices that allow apartment dwellers to raise crickets on table scraps. The idea is somewhat similar to the device created by Katarina Unger, but with more of a DIY aesthetic. The farms have detachable compartments that make it easier to feed and water the crickets without allowing them to hop out.
In the video below, Dzamba discusses some of the ways to overcome American's resistance to eating insects:
Dzamba doesn't dispute the idea that a vegan diet is the most sustainable. "If everyone in the world were vegan, there would be no food crisis at all," he said, but at no point in human history has that happened. "And it probably won't happen in the future, so it makes sense to start looking for other sources of animal protein that are more sustainable."
The Future Food Salon wasn't just about discussing the benefits of eating insects: it was about tasting them too. Bowls of roasted and salted "cocktail crickets" were served alongside cricket brittle from Cookie Martinez. For the less adventurous, there are cookies made from cricket flour by Emily Breedlove, a baker based in Austin, and cricket protein bars from Chapul. Co-host Aruna Antonella Handa described the cookies and bars as "a gentle introduction."
I am one person in need of coaxing, but Breedlove's chocolate chip cookies convinced me of the possibilities of eating bugs on the first bite.