Top New Zealand chefs say it will be a long time before
diners here will be able to stomach ordering insects for
Their comments follow a United Nations report that recommends
serving insects such as crickets, grubs and grasshoppers as a
way to stave off world hunger.
The authors of the study, by the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO), said it was accepted that the world's
population would reach nine billion by 2050, and the current
amount of food production needed to double.
"Land is scarce, and expanding the area devoted to farming is
rarely a viable or sustainable option," the study said.
"Oceans are overfished and climate change and related water
shortages could have profound implications for food
One billion people worldwide were already chronically hungry,
the report said.
"Tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be
re-evaluated. Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food
waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food."
But chef and Masterchef judge Josh Emett said he thought it
would take some time before Western cultures accepted insects
as part of their diet.
"I think it's going to be a struggle," he said.
"You've got to change generations and perception. For me to
start eating insects now is a pretty tough call, if I had to
make them part of my diet."
They might be more palatable if served with a nice sauce or
some rice, he said.
"But then I guess that's why you're eating insects in the
first place, because there's a shortage of that sort of
Emett said it would make a "lovely challenge" on Masterchef.
"The problem is we'd have to judge it and eat it, and I'm not
so sure about that."
Wellington chef Ruth Pretty said unless insects were already
part of the person's culture, it would take a major food
shortage before most Westerners would include insects as a
If she was to cook an insect, such as a grasshopper, she
would opt to deep fry it.
"Because it would just be crispy then, maybe add a bit of
tempura batter ... because all you're going to taste then is
"There's not much flesh on it, it's going to be crispy
anyway, so you'd emphasise that crispness."
Wild Food Festival organiser Mike Keenan thought the concept
of introducing insects into people's diets was a great idea.
"Most of the insects are very healthy in protein."
At the festival people were most drawn to huhu grubs, beetles
and grasshoppers, Mr Keenan said.
"They seem to go down extremely well."
* Grasshopper tortillas
Collect 1000 young grasshoppers. Soak for 24 hours. Boil and
let dry. Fry in a pan with garlic, onion, salt and lemon.
Roll up in tortillas with chilli sauce and guacamole.
* Witchetty grub barbecue:
Sear grubs with butter and garlic in a hot pan until brown.
Grab the head and bite off the rest. The taste is of fried
egg with a hint of nuts.
(Source: The Guardian)
By the numbers
* insects form part of the traditional diets of at least two
* more than 1900 insect species have reportedly been used as
* about one million of the 1.4 million described animal
species on earth are insects, and millions more are believed
* of the one million described insect species, only 5000 can
be considered harmful to crops, livestock or human beings.