We North Americans have had plenty of laughs at some of the stuff our British cousins eat - bangers & mash, bubble & squeak, spotted dick, blood pudding - maybe it's best to stop there. Well, according to a Dutch entomologist, by 2020 - less than a decade from now - Brits will be expanding their diet to include heaping portions of bugs. By then, animal protein - meat - is going to be in short supply and insects will be the protein of choice to make up the difference.
In an interview with Wired magazine, Prof Marcel Dicke of Wageningen University said: "The most important thing is getting people prepared, getting used to the idea. Because from 2020 onwards, there won't be much of a choice for us." He wants to persuade people to ditch prejudices about insects, and to persuade manufacturers and suppliers to come up with products that can be sold in "a reassuring and attractive manner". Dicke heads a Netherlands-based four-year programme aiming to produce a scientific and business plan to bring insects to western tables.
In the UK, the sale of insects for human consumption is part of what is still a niche food sector centred largely around novelty snacks. The specialist supplier Edible sells a range of delicacies ranging from Thai Curry crickets to BBQ worm crisps which are stocked by retailers such as Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.
Tanya McMullen, grocery buying manager at Selfridges, said: "The Edible brand grows year after year. Our customers like it because it is so unusual. You don't find oven-baked tarantula and scorpion lollies in many places so it's a product most customers won't have seen before. It is difficult to say whether it's a current trend as it has always been a successful range for Selfridges but there is definitely an increasing number of discerning customers who are more and more willing to try something out of the ordinary. Sales are currently very strong having grown 20% in the last 12 months."
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