Enjoy your bug-free burgers and cakes now, because worm-filled ice cream is coming.
Feeding the world’s growing population is a challenge — there will be 11 billion of us by the end of the century.
The problem is compounded by the effects of climate change. More extreme weather that results from global warming, like heavy rains and heat waves, threatens the global food supply.
Scientists have suggested for a while that we eat bugs as one way to solve looming food shortages. The Economist also made the case for bugs as a source of cheap and easy protein in an article last year.
Bugs are full of protein, calcium, and fibre, cheap to raise, and more sustainable than livestock. The major hurdle has been getting people, mainly Western cultures, to eat them.
According to The Economist, “not having to look at the bugs, and emphasising the environmental benefits might make the idea of eating insects a bit more palatable.”
So we tried it at a kiosk in Canary Wharf in London — here’s the verdict.
The giveaway, which has been running for a couple months, is part of a promotion for The Economist. You get a free book and a tub of the ice cream if you sign up for their subscription deal.
This was the menu. They actually only had two choices available -- scurry berry and nutritious Neapolitan -- and were out of the chocolate and strawberry flavours.
Here it is. The ice cream is made in London. The crushed bugs are shipped in from Holland and added in later. The Neapolitan had noticeable bits of mealworms and grasshopper, probably around 10% of the total mass.
So, the taste -- the ice cream itself was delicious and creamy. The mealworms gave the dessert a crispness, like popped rice with a chewy centre, while the grasshopper bits were less noticeable, like very finely chopped walnuts.
It wasn't very easy to eat knowing there were bugs in it. The grasshopper got stuck in my teeth and the chewy mealworms had a strange texture. Maybe it would have been different if the taste test was blind. Verdict: call me a Luddite but I'll stick with my bug-free Cornetto.
Bonus: Fun bug facts on the tub. You can't buy the ice cream, it was made specially for The Economist's campaign. If the main point of it was to prove to people that bugs could be used to bulk up existing foodstuffs, I'm not sure it worked. But as a promotion tool for the brand itself, it was eye-catching genius.
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