15 May 2013

Bug burgers, green ant cocktails all possible - chef

10:18 am on 15 May 2013

A top New Zealand chef is backing a United Nations study encouraging people to eat insects.

The study by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) found many insects are high in protein, fat and mineral content.

The study also found that the production of greenhouse gases by insect farming would be lower than that of livestock such as cows and pigs.

Chef Martin Bosley says he used to regularly cook green ants at a restaurant in Port Douglas in Queensland.

"You'd drop them into a pot of boiling water. When it was fresh it tasted like limes; we made sorbets, ice creams and salad dressing from it, made cocktails from green ant juice."

He believes insects will gradually be incorporated into the general diet.

"Proteins that can be extracted from bugs (will) definitely be used. We'll see bug proteins in burgers, in sausages, in mass produced food, no doubt about it."

West Coaster Don Neale sells insects at the Hokitika Wild Food Festival where a huhu grub can sell for up to $20.

He says there's nothing more organic and fresh than a huhu grub straight from the bush. "They taste like peanut butter," he says.

The organiser of the Kawhia Kai Festival, Lloyd Whiu, says the Maori diet has included insects which he says are a relatively untapped food source.

Insects such as crickets, beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers and locusts are already a part of the diet in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but are not often seen on plates in Western nations.

The authors of the FAO study acknowledge that consumer disgust remains one of the largest barriers to insects becoming a viable source of protein in western countries.

But dietary patterns can change quickly, they say, pointing to Europeans being repulsed by the idea of eating raw fish just 20 years ago, and the popularity of sushi in Europe now.